The tower looks great, with its recent relighting and all around sprucing up. However, I think there are a few issues with how they approach drawing new residents downtown in general. I have looked at the rental rates for The Merc (the lofts in Mercantile Tower), and they are OUTRAGEOUS! Developers market to young professionals (ages 25-35) to fill these spaces, but the monthly bill is so high that there are very few in this age group who can actually afford to pay that amount each month. The Wilson Building is one of the few, if not only, buildings that rent is under $1000/month, and just barely. So, most of the condos still sit for sale, and the new apartments for rent. Many buildings, like The Merc, continue to remain practically vacant. The whole idea is to bring people back to the city centre, but it has to be attainable or who will make the move, especially in a time of economic crisis? It's the exact same problem that my mom, our friend, and I discussed over lunch about Victory Park. They aim for young people , but it's priced just out of reach. Victory Park is essentially a ghost town on a daily basis, only filling up for hockey and basketball games. Every store in Victory Park is high end. The stores with more moderate price points or even independent store owners cannot afford to move into the retail space, due to the high rent rates. I realize the demographic they are trying to attract is the successful yuppies that are willing to spend big bucks on a loft, shopping, and dining out on a daily basis. But truth be told, those are a small percentage of the population as it is, and shrinking as our national unemployment rate skyrockets.
If they make living downtown a little more attainable, they may find that downtown will be the vibrant city centre developers and business owners all are hoping for. I'm not saying that we need to hang "move-in special" and "Se Habla Español" signs, and lower the rent to $399/mo, as these developers need a little ROI. But maybe take a down a peg? Our next door neighbor Fort Worth has lofts in beautiful historic buildings for very reasonable rent rates. Their downtown is a thriving and popular destination. Any given weekend you will find locals filling the streets- going out to eat, drink, attending concerts and movies. There are sure to be activities for people to participate, and shows to witness, on of my favourites being the horse whispering contest. Fort Worth may not be as high fashion as Dallas, but I think we should take a page from their urban planners/developers to help bring a pulse back to our own downtown. Granted, it wouldn't hurt to have such benefactors as the Bass family too. :)
There are parks and public interest projects that are in the blueprint stage which will continue to beautify our downtown, but getting them off the paper and into reality is proving to be a real feat.
So we must be reminded, that when it comes time to vote on such propositions like the Trinity River project, to be sure to participate and voice our opinions! Sometimes it requires a public mandate to really get the wheels in motion on such projects.
With a balance of realistic expectations on what future residents are capable of affording, and a little good marketing, we could realize a burgeoning urban centre that all can be happy with.