Star Telegram: Can Arlington Deliver On Its Dream of a Vibrant Downtown?

ARLINGTON, Texas (April 10, 2018) -- On a recent weekday afternoon at Urban Alchemy, UT Arlington students were spread out on couches and tables, chatting with friends or studying on their laptops.

[caption id="attachment_22303" align="img-wrapleft" width="403"]Urban Alchemy photo by Star Telegram Urban Alchemy Coffee + Wine Bar.[/caption]

As the workday started to wind down, professionals started filtering into the 2-month-old business looking for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.

"I came because it's really cool and has a really urban, artsy feel to me," said Grace Hann, 21, a junior nursing major at UTA. "They had a jazz band the other night. They have a really unique twist on coffee and wine."

The hip scene is just what the boosters of downtown Arlington like to see — a locally-owned business becoming a hub of activity in what has historically been a sleepy downtown.

Or, as Tony Rutigliano, Urban Alchemy's owner says: "It's community building, and we're just using coffee and wine to do that."

Downtown Arlington is undergoing a major reinvention, an attempt by city leaders to give the city of 400,000 a gathering spot worthy of its size. Downtown is just (south) of the city's better-known entertainment district, anchored by AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park and Six Flags Over Texas — with Texas Live! coming soon.

"Think about the size of our downtown. We are the 50th largest city in America, bigger than St. Louis, and Pittsburgh and our downtown is the size of a downtown that would be a fourth of our size," Mayor Jeff Williams said. "I think it's really critical that we build up our downtown. But isn't that an exciting opportunity to build a downtown?"

In June, the City of Arlington will open a new library behind City Hall, and it has also just embarked on a two-year project to rebuild Abram Street, downtown's main artery.

There are now 26 restaurants in downtown Arlington, from old standbys like J. Gilligan's and J.R. Bentley's to newcomers like Urban Alchemy or the still-under-construction Tipsy Oak, which should open this summer.

There are new apartment complexes such as 101 Center and 404 Border. Another, Park Place, is breaking ground this year... continued

Read the full story by Bill Hanna and view the video by Max Faulkner in the Star Telegram. Photos by Star Telegram.