A Letter from Maggie Campbell, President and CEO of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation
As I cheered on the sparkly floats and festive entries in this year’s Holiday Lights Parade, I was filled with enormous gratitude. What an incredible community we have in Downtown Arlington, I thought, and what an incredible journey we’re on together.
Seventeen years ago at the first holiday parade in Downtown Arlington, a family likely sat in the same spot where I stood. What’s even more exciting to me is the possibility that today, their daughter or son may be building a business just around the corner or right up the street.
When we introduce Downtown Arlington to visitors and potential investors, we talk about our strong economic numbers, public-private partnerships, and our Downtown Master Plan. We show them our cultural arts destinations, creative repurposing of old buildings by new start-ups, beautification projects, and the on-going commitment to public art. As they hear about a UT Arlington that’s bursting at the seams, they sense the reverberation of our growing college town vibe.
But to us locals, what’s happening in our city’s historic center is even more extraordinary. We remember the 1980s version of downtown. Now our memories are being replaced by a thoughtful, comprehensive commitment to placemaking. Who’s responsible for seeing Downtown Arlington for what it can be, should be, and will be? You are. We are. Downtown is the real deal, and we’re all in. Because so many homegrown and UTA-grown entrepreneurs are choosing to build their businesses in Downtown Arlington, so are others.
Look at all we’ve accomplished in 2019 alone, and look and what’s on the horizon for 2020:
Strike Up the Brand
With input from our many stakeholders, this summer Downtown Arlington Management Corporation (DAMC) modernized the branding for Downtown to be more in keeping with our district’s character and aspirations. Stay tuned for our completely new, user-friendly website set to launch early next year.
Now Open and Coming Soon
If you haven’t been to Downtown lately, well, you know the rest. It’s time to come and explore!
In 2019, we celebrated the opening of new members to our business community including Rita’s Italian Ice, Frost Bank, Lone Star Axe Throwing, Wildfire and Lace, Wild West Comics and Games, The Hive, and Make Good.
Coming in 2020? Hurtado Barbecue, Salter Brothers Coffee Roasters, Catalyst Creative Arts, Inclusion Coffee, Cane Rosso, Nestlé Toll House Café, and White Rhino Coffee.
Arlington Cultural District
Downtown Arlington is the City’s only official state Cultural District, so in 2019, DAMC continued to seek ways to nurture and celebrate our abundance of creative talent. DAMC and the City commissioned two new murals, sponsored several fine and performing arts exhibitions and festivals, and supported the first annual Camp Lotus, a music summer camp by Kirk Franklin and Fo Yo Soul Entertainment studio.
Additionally, this fall the Arlington Museum of Art hosted its inaugural artist-in-residence, and the Downtown Library will launch its artist-in-residency program in January 2020.
Re-imagining Abram Street
In 2018, the Abram St. revitalization project began, and in Spring 2020, the project will be complete. So in 2019, as dedicated workers braved the elements to build our ultimate vision, we kept calm and carried on. Special thanks to the City of Arlington for supporting our small businesses located on and near Abram Street by co-hosting monthly myAbram construction meetings and spotlighting entrepreneurship through the Downtown: Open for Business series.
As the City’s historic and geographic center, Downtown Arlington has always been the place where people have come to put down roots. Today, the district boasts a very diverse community of commercial and residential hubs both within and adjacent to our defined boundaries. While the Levitt Pavilion was Downtown's first major catalyst project in recent history (2008), it has since delivered on its promise to NOT be the last.
In the last few years, for instance, we've seen the transformation of Abram St. (including the new Downtown Library, 101 Center, City Center, and City Council Chambers), organic changes taking place along East Main Street, and major investments in and around Urban Union. This kind of momentum attracts even more new investment, foretelling a bright future.
Home Sweet Home
Many factors must be in place to sustain Downtown Arlington’s economic prosperity, not the least of which is a diversity of housing options. Over the last 10-15 years, developers responded to the powerful demand driven by UTA’s robust enrollment. More recently, with new Downtown living communities like 101 Center and historic neighborhoods nearby, more young professionals, families and empty-nesters can also find their home sweet home in the heart of Arlington.
Coming in 2020? Main 7, Park 7, and two Urban Union residential communities.
Partnerships are the foundation of our approach in Downtown Arlington and the root of our successes. From our earliest days, three major entities in Downtown -- the City of Arlington, UT Arlington, and DAMC -- have remained contractually and existentially committed to creating a place where creativity, authenticity, and hometown pride thrive and drive what’s next.
In addition to our long-standing partners, DAMC celebrates our ever-increasing breadth and depth of collaborative relationships. Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex, for example, helps us keep Downtown clean year-round. In support of our new strategic priority, we're looking forward to working closely with the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that sustains long-term success. As the City looks ahead to an $810 million expansion of the nearby Entertainment District, DAMC and the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau are collaborating on new ways to create synergy between all of Arlington's entertainment destinations.
With all the ingenuity, spirit and pride concentrated in Downtown Arlington, there’s no doubt in my mind that our district has moved from being “what’s next” to “now.” Together with you, I can hardly wait to ring in the New Year.
President and CEO
Downtown Arlington Management Corporation
Photo of Maggie by O.K. Carter. Downtown photos by Elena Thaxton and City of Arlington Office of Communication. Camp Lotus image courtesy The Franklin Imagine Group.