New attractions, events draw crowds to downtown Dallas - Dallas News |

New attractions, events draw crowds to downtown Dallas

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Downtown Dallas used to be a ghost town after the work day ended. Only a handful of Dallasites lived downtown in the mid-90s, but now it's bustling with thousands of urban dwellers.

And, events like this past weekend's Dallas Video Festival are attracting more locals and tourists to the area after the sun goes down.

For example, the famous green Bank of America tower faced fierce competition as the new Omni Hotel became a giant electronic canvas with a 52-minute art installation compiled by 14 artists.

"We all wanted to really exploit this opportunity, despite the low-res format, that could be meaningful to all kinds of people," said Carolyn Sorter, a local artist.

"No one can ever say there's nothing to do in downtown Dallas again," added John Crawford, president of Downtown Dallas Inc.

The area used to be the place to work, not eat or play. In 1996 only 200 people lived in a single high rise. Now 40,000 people live in downtown thanks to more old buildings being converted to apartments and lofts. Plus, there are now 250 bars, restaurants and lounges.

"Back 25 years ago, people wanted to be in the suburbs. Today people in their early 20s to mid to late 30s all wanna be in the urban live, work and play environment," Crawford said.

Even suburban dwellers are visiting after hours.

"We live about an hour away from here, but we do come downtown for entertainment and things like that," said Debbie Burns, who has worked downtown for 14 years.

But it almost didn't happen. In 2004, Dallas took a big hit losing the new Cowboys Stadium to Arlington.

"I think it was considered a setback for downtown, but all that did was kick us into gear to figure out how we're going to replace that," Crawford said.

The timeline sped up and in the past year the Omni, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and Dallas City Performance Hall opened. The Klyde Warren Park will open next month and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is scheduled to open in January.


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