Deep Ellum Community Reaction to New Dallas Uber Office

Deep Ellum Foundation says project may help everyone in Deep Ellum

Community reaction ranged from worry to joy Wednesday over 3,000 highly paid Uber employees coming to Deep Ellum.

"Everybody is going to benefit from 3,000 employees in the area and the levels of compensation that Uber is talking about," said Joe Beard, CEO of Westdale Real Estate.

His firm is developing The Epic, the multi-use project on Good Latimer at Pacific that Uber has selected.

Beard said Uber will initially use 170,000 square feet of office space in the just completed tower and more space in a larger second office building yet to be built.

The apartments and a hotel at The Epic will support the large Uber office and more real estate recently acquired by Westdale could support more high rise office construction in the future.

Other sources Monday said Uber intends to occupy a five building campus at the site, but the Westdale CEO said Tuesday that construction beyond the first two office buildings, the apartments and the hotel would be for different firms.

"We've had interest from other high tech tenants that are interested in this area of town, so hopefully we can bring more of those type jobs to Dallas," Beard said.

The Uber people working in the Dallas office could be involved with 'Uber Elevates' flying car development but Beard said a verti-port at the Deep Ellum site is not planned at this time.

Beard said the planned Epic project with Uber as a tenant would not hurt the Deep Ellum neighborhood, in which Westdale has been a key redevelopment player.

"We own a lot of the core of Deep Ellum and we've had a long term vision for the area. We've owned this property the Epic Development sits on for over 20 years so we're not new to the neighborhood or here to take advantage of the neighborhood. We've been a long term owner in this area," Beard said.

The Deep Ellum Foundation represents other property owners in the neighborhood.

"I think on balance it will be good," Foundation Board President Jonathon Hetzel said.

Hetzel said over 400 small businesses in Deep Ellum would benefit from the additional customers and that new residential construction on the way should help avoid alarming rent increases, even with so many potential new tenants.

"We have so many apartments coming on line in this neighborhood that they should be able to fill all the demand by the additional users, on the apartment side," Hetzel said.

Deep Ellum resident Tamarus Bedford is not so sure.

"I do think it's going to make it a little more expensive. I think it's the future direction for the Deep Ellum community," Bedford said.

Currently homeless, Bedford said he has worked and lived in the Deep Ellum neighborhood for years and watched it change with all the redevelopment of old buildings recently.

"I think Deep Ellum is moving away from all the night clubs and bars and it's going to be more of a residential community," Bedford said. "I think it's a good thing."

At a bus stop in the neighborhood Tuesday, Bedford was discussing the issue of homelessness with visitor Thomas Heisa who said it is a sharp contrast to the multi-million dollar incentives Uber received from the City of Dallas, Dallas County and the State of Texas.

"We give all this money to a big corporation. Why can't we redirect a percentage of that to the people in need," Heisa said.

Foundation President Hetzel said the new development could help homeless people in Deep Ellum, as well. The Epic in is the Deep Ellum Public Improvement District, where additional property taxes are levied for neighborhood services, including security and clean up.

"The more money we have for those programs, the more we would be able to address those as well as potentially helping out those people in need," Hetzel said. "Westdale, the master developer of the project, is one of our biggest contributors already, so we hope the additional economic benefit from that will trickle through to managing the neighborhood."

Hetzel said the Foundation would also solicit Uber for support in the new neighborhood so that well paid new employees would not be the only ones to benefit.

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