Long-time Resident Rediscovers Downtown

I have a rather humbling confession to make.

I lived in Arlington for many years before I even knew there was a downtown.

Then I started to notice  things were happening in downtown Arlington.  The Levitt Pavilion opened. More restaurants popped up on Abrams, Center, and other downtown streets.  UTA transformed 20 acres of the campus into the College Park District, with restaurants, apartments, green space and the College Park Center with seating for about 7,000 for sports, concerts and other events.  The district offers a crucial link to the downtown area, bringing the students, and their spending habits, closer to downtown businesses.

I have been especially fortunate to be working in and around the downtown area at this time of explosive growth.   It’s a fun thing to take part in and watch. Sure, some of the tender new shoots of development have withered, with some restaurant owners reluctantly closing their doors not too long after opening them.  But that seems to be the way things go with growth and change. Some of it can be painful, but in the end, a new energy, a more forward-thinking vibe emerges.

Several months ago, I set out to capture some of that feel in 30 second snippets. I’ve produced countless videos for many clients over the years, but this one was personal. This is my town and I wanted to share what I love about it.  In an effort to limit production costs , I decided to forgo my usual mode of operation – working with talented freelance videographers and editors, both with lots of great equipment. Instead, I got out my smart phone.  With the help of Texas A& M journalism student Nina Smith, when she was home this past summer, I spent a lot of time downtown, getting video of all kinds of things.    

Along the way, I noticed some things you might not know about Arlington:

The ingenuity of emerging entrepreneurs is alive and well here. From a new microbrewery, to a company designing hats and uniforms for the Dallas Mavericks, companies are setting down roots here.

Families really like to gather in a downtown space.  It’s great to see young and old together at events like Light Up Arlington, or the weekly free Levitt Pavilion concerts throughout the summer and fall. It gives us a real sense of community, something every town needs.

If you want downtown living, the doors are opening wide for new opportunities there as well.  Student apartment housing has exploded, and there are new options for working professionals as well.

Two bed and breakfast operations are open for business, offering all the comforts of home to out-of-town visitors. 

You can catch live music most any weekend night in several places, live theater at Theater Arlington and at UTA’s Mainstage Theater.

Bring a team to play volleyball by the Grease Monkey, or stop in for a hot towel shave at a new “old-school” barber shop.

Stop by just east of the Levitt Pavilion to see “Dream” the new public art dedicated recently.

These are just a few of my observations that I am glad I noticed in downtown Arlington, and hope many more people do the same.  It’s growing and changing and you won’t want to miss any of it.

Beth Henkel is a video producer and writer working and living in Arlington.