Those who live and work in Uptown, home to 10 million square feet of office space and approximately 24,000 residents, thrive on green space.
Perhaps no project has revealed that more than Klyde Warren Park. The 5.2-acre park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway has averaged 1 million visitors a year since opening in fall 2012.
It’s partly because the deck park offers 1,300 programs, most at no cost. Residents can join a yoga class before work or enjoy a game of chess, all provided at the park. Lunchtime heralds the arrival of food trucks and, on select evenings, live music draws hundreds. On sweltering summer days the park’s water features provide a welcome respite for children and canines alike.
“I don’t think Dallas realized how hungry it was for green space and gathering space,” says Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green. “This park has really tapped into that need.”
It’s also helped spur economic development. According to CBRE in Dallas, the increase in office rents for buildings close to the park has been staggering, some seeing as much as a 64 percent increase in rental rates since October 2012. Even downtown addresses off the park saw a 46 percent spike in rates during the same time period.
Recognition has grown to a national scale, with news in October of a 2014 Urban Land Institute Urban Open Space Award.
“It’s not just about driving property values,” Green says. “It’s about quality of life, providing an environment for residents to come out and relax. It really does provide a holistic approach to life in downtown and Uptown.”
Another center-city sanctuary is Griggs Park, located within Uptown and nestled in the State Thomas Historic District, offering 8 acres of renovated space, with a playground and basketball court in the works for 2015.
“Visit right after work, and you’ll see the community that this park is building: Dozens of nearby residents visiting together while their dogs and young children play,” says Amy Tharp, president and executive director of Uptown Dallas Inc.
The presence of urban oases like nearby Katy Trail, which wends along the borders of Uptown to Oak Lawn and Highland Park, provides a built-in amenity that corporations eyeing a relocation can offer to employees. Construction to connect the 3.5-mile trail to White Rock Lake is underway, with the section from Mockingbird Station to White Rock Creek Trail scheduled for completion by the end of 2014. The Mockingbird Pedestrian Bridge is on track for a mid-2016 completion.
The calming influence of lush greenery and pedestrian-friendly walkways attracts and retains office tenants in the 18-block Harwood District. With 6.5 acres of gardens — including water features and secret green rooms at Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens, office space in the district is nearly 100 percent leased, says Jihane Boury, Harwood International vice president and director of leasing.
Boury reports that Frost Tower, which will be ready for occupancy in the spring, was 92 percent leased before the project’s December 2014 topping-out ceremony.
“The design will be similar to the model at Saint Ann Court with landscaped gardens and a restaurant and café available for tenants, residents, and patrons,” Boury says.