Thursday, August 28, 2008

Downtown is buzzing with retail & entertainment

Those folks who lament, "There's nothing to do in Dallas," haven't gone Downtown, lately. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are buzzing with retail, restaurants, clubs, shows, and theater. Walking the streets is becoming a people watching show. Lights, cameras,action, is this Dallas?

"On some nights, you'd think you're in Times Square," says John Crawford, President and CEO of DOWNTOWNDALLAS, who sounds like a proud papa, when promoting downtown development efforts. "People are walking elbow to elbow. They're out walking their dogs. It's very, very lively,"

He's talking about pockets of urban development, which are rapidly expanding towards one another: the Main Street District around Neiman's at 1618 Main Street, the shops, galleries, and restaurants of Uptown, new boutiques opening in
Victory Park, the world class Arts District, the growing South Side, the West End, Farmer's Market, Deep Ellum, the Design District, and eventually an entirely new development along Industrial Boulevard next to the Trinity River.

"We're creating a Live, Work, and Play environment. People want to enjoy themselves. They're tired of $4 gasoline and sitting on an expressway for two hours. We've turned 180 degrees, from 25 years of suburban flight to Urban walk-ability," Crawford says.

Today, Downtown Dallas offers 150 shops and 250 restaurants. The House of Blues is a premier destination for dining and live music. Pulse, a hip, chic fitness center has opened at Mosaic, a two tower apartment complex that offers ultra urbanism. One Arts Plaza, on the edge of the Dallas Arts District, is home to restaurants like Tei-An, Fedora, Jorge's, Dali and Screen Door. Downtown shops like Crimson in the City and Benji's Collesioni have celebrated second anniversaries.

This competitive market place is welcome news to Shelle Sills, General Manager and Vice President of Neiman Marcus' flagship store, which has just celebrated its 100th anniversary of commitment to Downtown Dallas.

"the more critical mass we have of restaurants, retail and entertainment makes downtown stronger. That's good for Neiman's and good for the city," Sills says. "We encourage new business and look forward to healthy competition. Neiman's is enjoying a very successful year, even in this economic climate. Here at our downtown store, our core customer base never left, and it is growing, with all the young professionals moving Downtown."

Jack Gosnell is a partner with United Commercial Realty, and you'll see his For Lease signs in the windows of Mercantile Place on Main.

"The real key is delivering full block faces to encourage window shopping," says Gosnell, who says he feels like he's been standing on street corners for about 8 years, waving his arms, urging quality businesses to move back Downtown. A full block face means every storefront in the entire block is occupied, and like a mall, there is a mix of lifestyle specialty shops, anchor stores, and restaurants.

"For years, you'd drive down the street from Neiman's and feel like you were in Beirut, with dark, chained store fronts." says Gosnell, who serves on the Downtown Retail Recruitment Committee for DOWNTOWNDALLAS. "We're working to change that. Finally, we're getting the wheels rolling. It works like a daisy chain, one store links to another."

Naturally, we're talking location, location, location.
"We're right next to the new AT&T headquarters and we offer corporate discounts," says Hillgartner. "We're getting guys shopping on their lunch hours from law firms, accounting, insurance, oil and gas, and banking.

The growing Dallas Arts District provides superior entertainment and cultural experiences day and night, from the Myerson Symphony Center, to the world-renowned Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert says, when the Winspear Opera House and the Wylie Theatre are completed, the Dallas Arts District will be the finest in the world.

ALT Worldwide Chauffeured services recently relocated their corporate headquarters to the heart of downtown Dallas'. CEO Kevin Hoque, states "With many of our corporate and hotel client's located in downtown, it was only a natural choice to position ourselves readily accessible to our valued clients."

ALT (American Limos & Transportation) is more than just Dallas' leading ground transportation company; it is a global leader of premium luxury hospitality services. Its unique Global Alliance is an assembly of elite ground transportation companies with commitment to rigorous industry standards and safety to provide unparalleled, consistent round-the-clock services worldwide.

ALT is also known as a leader in the industry for its "Green" initiatives. With its recent relocation, ALT will subsidize all associates to take public transportation for their daily commute. ALT not only offers green vehicle choices, but also incentives corporate travelers and its associates to use sustainable products that are environmentally friendly.

These days, Dallas nightlife is the good life, no matter what Willie sings, with more than 60 lounges and bars Downtown, alone. As the good folks at DOWNTOWNDALLAS like to say, "Whether it's catching a great local band at Club Dada, sipping wine at Swirll, toasting cosmos at ghostbar, or getting rowdy with the comedy troop at Ad Libs... we've got it all Downtown!"