Dallas Leaders Thrilled With Midtown Project People Mover

Midtown developer blames city of Dallas for project delays

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Dallas city council members this week praised new plans for a people mover to link the new Midtown development, the Galleria area and DART’s new Silver Line trains.

“It speaks to everything that the Mayor has been talking about as sort of our last best chance to compete with the suburbs that are taking so many of our residents and businesses,” Council Member Jaynie Schultz said.

She represents the area around I-635 LBJ Freeway and Preston Road where the Midtown development has been planned for 10-years to replace the old Valley View Mall.

The Midtown project is to be high-rise offices, homes, stores and restaurants around a large park. A new street grid will be installed in what once were sprawling mall parking lots. The people mover would serve an even larger area.

Developer Scott Beck said the city of Dallas is to blame for Midtown delays by failing to provide necessary sewer service for the site.

“That's really the primary reason for the delay. In fact, over the past number of years there's been multiple tenants that wanted to come on the property,” Beck said.

There’s not much to show for a decade of Midtown planning and effort. The site is mostly empty lots.

“It's an eyesore for sure,” resident Brandon Booth said.

New renderings presented to the Dallas City Council Transportation Committee this week show how the people mover could serve the areas. It could also be connected to remote parking structures.

It would be similar to the automated Skylink that connects terminals at DFW Airport.

"I think it’s amazing. It’s the first time I’ve seen it," Booth said.

At the Target store across Montfort Road from the Midtown site, visitor Courtney Mannion was also shown the plan Thursday.

“Well, that's exciting. It's going to be right here? Wow. Very, cool,” she said.

Dallas City Council Members had similar reactions at their meeting.

“The people mover is great. And I love the idea. I love this concept. This is forward-thinking. This is us being a more progressive city when it comes to transportation thoughts,” Transportation Committee Chairman Omar Narvaez said.

Cara Mendelsohn who represents a district just north of the Midtown site promised to promote the people mover at the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) where she also serves.

“I would very much like people to stay in Dallas and while there are a few opportunities here and there, this will be a showcase. I personally drive by this every single day and it is a blight. And it’s a huge opportunity for us. It’s a huge opportunity for housing. It’s a huge opportunity for recreation but more than anything, it’s a huge opportunity to really develop the area into something fabulous,” Mendelsohn said.

A tax increment financing district was set up to help provide infrastructure for both the Midtown project and the Redbird Mall redevelopment in Southwest Dallas, which has advanced more quickly than Midtown. Tax base improvements at each support the other.

“So all around I believe this to be a win for Dallas,” South Dallas Fair Park area Councilman Adam Bazaldua said. “I’m really excited about this project, probably one of the most excited I’ve been about something in the northern part of our city since I’ve been on council.”

The RTC has provided $10 million for Midtown people mover planning.

Assistant Dallas City Manager Majed Al-Gahfry said construction cost could be $50 million but plans are not far enough along to be certain. He said construction money could come from several sources, including federal infrastructure funds.

“The current government is very high on transit projects so I think it’s an opportunity for us to utilize that,” he said.

Beck said he is pleased with the strong support city council members voiced this week.

“We’ve got a lot of really interesting and positive momentum now for the Dallas Midtown project,” he said.

Beck said his firm and another Midtown developer partnered to install the sanitary sewer lines that the city did not install.

The sewer work is due to be completed in January and Midtown construction could finally begin within months.

He said Midtown is an ideal North Texas location and the vision that began 10 years ago may soon start to appear.

“You do not have to go all the way north into Plano and Frisco and other areas. You can stop right here at Dallas Midtown,” Beck said.

Beck said construction will begin with apartments at the Midtown site.

New apartments have also recently been added at a former car dealer site nearby along I-635 and more are under construction there.

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