Can do, Will do: Looking Back and Looking Ahead in Downtown Arlington

Thank you.

Thank you for believing in your City’s downtown district, with all its entrepreneurial energy, creative spirit and a scrappy can-do attitude. In 2021, you helped lift Downtown Arlington up enough above the ongoing pandemic to help us see our collective future. 

Can-do spirit in 2021   

In 2021, thank you for warmly welcoming several new businesses to the Downtown Arlington Business Improvement District. Three new ground-floor businesses opened in 101 Center this year -- Amore Mio Trattoria, Kung Fu Tea, and Anne’s Grocery -- joining neighbors Inclusion Coffee, Kintaro Ramen, and Frost Bank in this vibrant mixed-use building. You also offered an enthusiastic welcome to Hayter’s Bar and Lounge and Camp Tuf in Urban Union and welcomed back Twisted Root to Abram St.

Throughout the year, you stuck by our side as we continued adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with our Downtown Outdoors program. You made our 2021 Annual Meeting the largest ever by gathering with us outdoors at the Sanford House. There, we celebrated Jeff Williams, Wally Hardin and Arlington Life Shelter with our top honors: the Dream Builders Award, Legendary Lionheart Award and Golden Lantern Award respectively.  

Thanks to you, our Down to Business podcast series is one of our most popular streaming endeavors ever. The bi-monthly interview show celebrates the ingenuity, tenacity, pride and entrepreneurism that energizes all kinds of commercial enterprises in Downtown Arlington. On Small Business Saturday 2021, the podcast celebrated its first anniversary.

Thank you for continuing to support the arts in Downtown Arlington throughout 2021. You embraced a powerhouse season (both in person and online) at the Levitt Pavilion this year, including their new Share the Stage platform and a special 9/11 memorial concert. You returned to Arlington Music Hall for a parade of star-studded performances, kept the music playing at the Arlington Symphony Orchestra, and buoyed visual arts programming at Create Arlington and Catalyst Creative Arts plus West Main and South Street Art festivals. Your passion for the Arlington Museum of Art summer exhibition 30 Americans, plus several accompanying community events, made the exhibit one of the most popular in the Museum’s history. 

You helped us launch a new idea – Ramblin’ Roads Music Festival – and are continuing to guide us as we consider its return in 2023. You also tuned in like gangbusters to our Road Streaming Kit program, funded by the State of Texas, which helped amplify our arts community through live streaming events and programs. Over 63 local artists, organizations and arts entities were involved in 2021.

You joined us in celebrating our deep Maverick pride in August when the University of Texas at Arlington announced its new designation as a Texas Tier One institution! Downtown Arlington and UTA partner in many ways, and in 2021, we expanded the UTA Safe Ride program so that students on campus can hail a Mav Escort van to three downtown locations nightly from 7pm-3am.  

Remembering two hometown heroes   

This year, you held us in your hearts as we mourned the loss of two incredible leaders in our Downtown community. 

This summer we said good-bye to friend and Downtown matriarch Persis Forster, founder of Miss Persis Studio of Dance and Performing Arts. “The Big P” is the undisputed progenitor of generations of artists and art lovers who got their start learning dance and musical theater right here in Downtown Arlington. The earliest seeds for our eventual designation as an official State of Texas Cultural District were planted when Persis opened her studio here in 1954.

Early this December, we mourned the loss of Michael Jarrett, immediate past chair of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation. The President of Worthington National Bank branch in Downtown, Michael served passionately and brilliantly as the leader of numerous community organizations, philanthropic and economic development efforts. He will be dearly missed. 

What incredible examples Persis and Michael have set for us, reminding us of the power of dedicated, long-term community service. We pledge to live by their examples as we continue our work. 

Yes, we will: Looking ahead to 2022   

Now, as we move into 2022, we have much to look forward to and celebrate. 

West Main Street will continue to flourish as a cultural hub in Downtown Arlington. The Arlington Museum of Art is looking forward to another blockbuster summer featuring artwork by Disney animators, and we can’t wait for the reopening of Theatre Arlington when renovations are completed in early 2022. Create Arlington has laid the groundwork for a whole new level of involvement in 2022 by local artists, including the popular West Main Arts Festival (formally known as East Main). 

Pop-up events hosted by Downtown Arlington will start popping up throughout the district this coming spring! Keep your eyes on our social media for announcements about fun programming like pop-up dog parks, bar crawls, dancing, and more. 

Between the Downtown Library and City Hall, you’ll see the emergence in 2022 of a new cultural landmark with strong ties to Arlington’s earliest history: a Mineral Well fountain tower, which will feature a clock tower, lion sculptures and seating areas. 

Speaking of an emergence: Urban Union Phase 2 is under way! This ambitious expansion of Downtown Arlington's popular mixed-use development will extend the Urban Union footprint west along Front Street and includes five mixed-use buildings. In addition to restaurants, retails and loft apartments, a new office building will be a key feature of this phase of Urban Union’s development. It will be the first office building of its scale in Downtown to be built in decades. Tenants including Sutton Frost Cary LLP, Spiral Diner, Doughboy Donuts, Cow Tipping Creamery, and Coop’s Fowl Ball (a new sports bar concept featuring a family-friendly menu) have already announced they will be part of Urban Union Phase 2.

To see this kind of significant investment continuing in a downtown business district any time, and particularly during an ongoing worldwide pandemic, is remarkable. So many downtowns across the country continue to struggle and shrink while Downtown Arlington continues to build and grow. All of North Texas is watching Downtown Arlington with wonder, and it’s all because you continue to believe. 

Thank you. Here’s to 2022!

Maggie Campbell
President and CEO
Downtown Arlington Management Corporation