Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mockingbird Station

Mockingbird Station, Dallas, Texas 
By: Chris Harpstrite

Dallas, Texas is known for its sprawling communities, crisscrossed and encircled by beltways, but recently they have embarked on a new task, to reinvent themselves around light rail. DART, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, opened in 1996, in 2002 they had only 20 miles of light rail with an additional 24 miles planned. Thirty of DART’s thirty-four stations were located within the City of Dallas. Despite the fact that the city was a leader in 1987 in helping to develop Dallas’s very first New Urbanist development, a walkable, pedestrian friendly, mixed-use downtown neighborhood served by trolley, the city did not promote transit-oriented development around its DART stations, until Mockingbird Station right outside Dallas began development. (Dittmar & Ohland, 2004, p. 156)

Figure 4.3 Mockingbird Station Photographs. Source: East-West Gateway

Mockingbird Station is located right outside Dallas, and is a 10 acre, $105 million urban village on DART’s light rail line. A unique situation that rarely happens when developing transit-oriented development sites happened here, this project was completed using solely private investments. Investors felt comfortable enough with this project because of the promising real estate market, and they were right.

The village now consists of 211 loft-style apartments, 150,000 square feet of office space, eight screen independent film theatre, and 183,000 square feet of retail which includes: six restaurants, a bank, dry cleaner, full service grocery store, and 90 other shops within a five minute walk.

Mockingbird station isn’t a typical transit-oriented development station, while it is a pedestrian oriented district; parking ratios are similar to that of any other suburban neighborhood. However, almost all of parking is located underground, this allows the streetscape for a minimum amount of vehicles and oriented towards pedestrians.

One of Mockingbird’s shortcomings was its pedestrian connection to surrounding areas. Hughes, one of the major private project investors, stated that the third phase, an L-shaped eighteen story hotel with ground floor retail would help with some of those connection problems.

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