Dallas New Urbanization

"The Rubber Band Effect" by Scott Beck

When you look around the world, many great cities have been built on a north-south axis. Some examples of foreign cities include Beijing, Bogota, Lahore, and Athens. What causes cities to be built on an alternate axis is usually some type of water tributary, railway, or topographical impediment. Just like most cities, Dallas, Texas is built on a north-south axis.  When Dallas initially expanded out of downtown, it followed Preston Road, a dirt road at the time, to the north away from Downtown Dallas. An interesting side note is that when the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce was originally formed in the 1950′s by Ebby Halliday and others its mission was to pave Preston Road. The course of the development began in the 1890’s.  It followed a path from East Dallas, towards Highland Park, onto Preston Hollow, Richardson and lastly, towards Plano and Frisco.  Anyone living in Dallas as long as I have, since 1974, may remember that Plano was nothing but farmland and no one had even heard of Frisco.

Over the past several years, I have spoken to many groups about the Rubber Band Effect Theory. When you stretch a rubber band out all the way and watch it snap back, you will notice that it doesn’t snap back to the center.  It typically snaps back 2/3 of the way. That’s exactly how urban and suburban City developments have acted around the world.  This theory, I believe, is primed to happen in Dallas over the next 20 years.

The rubber band in Dallas has been stretched so far north that the northernmost boundary of the Metroplex is actually closer to Oklahoma than Downtown Dallas.  I believe that the rubber band now has no choice but to snap back 2/3 of the way.  This happens to be LBJ freeway or 635. It is also important to recognize that 635 is currently undergoing a $3 billion makeover and adding paid express lanes that will be completed before the end of 2015. This expansion will increase capacity on the major east-west connector of Dallas by 150,000 cars per day and solidify the connectivity of DFW Airport to the center of the population density of Dallas.

The City of Dallas has recognized that Midtown has the opportunity to become a major economic engine and begin to bring back major office users and development to North Dallas. These tenants have been lost over the past 25 years to Addison, Plano, Richardson, Allen, and Frisco. The new comprehensive zoning and concept plan adopted by the Dallas

The City Council vote on May 22, 2013, will have the effect of bringing much of this back to North Dallas. As more development moves to the Midtown district, this Rubber Band Effect will intensify and help to increase vibrancy not only to all the property in North Dallas, but will spread all the way through Preston hollow, Highland Park, Oak Lawn and reverberate back through Downtown Dallas.

The location for the upcoming development of Dallas Midtown www.dallasmidtown.com is adjacent to 635, and within the “City Goal Posts” of the Dallas North Tollway and Central Expressway. You can call this a coincidence or a new phase of development, but the Rubber Band in the City of Dallas has officially snapped.

Gallery at Midtown



Latest Press