Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says progress is being made in revitalizing southern Dallas. He credits his GrowSouth initiative in helping stimulate investment and development in communities south of Interstate 30 and the Trinity River. Still, the area faces many challenges.
The big takeaway from the 2017 GrowSouth annual progress report: Southern Dallas is growing — and at a faster rate than North Dallas. Since 2011, when the initiative launched, the tax base growth in southern Dallas has been about 25 percent – about double the growth happening in the northern part of the city.
“Long story short, if you had invested $100 in North Dallas versus southern Dallas, you would’ve made more money in southern Dallas,” Rawlings said. “We have never seen this type of growth.”
Along with the area’s overall improvements between 2012 and 2016, southern Dallas has seen an uptick in population, lower property crime and a higher high school graduation rate – nearly 11 percent higher. Property values also increased by more than 40 percent. Per capita income is up and unemployment is down.
Rawlings said the city is trying to attract more jobs to the area by encouraging investment from companies like Uber – which has hired more than 2,500 people in southern Dallas. Starbucks announced this week it will be opening a store next to Red Bird Mall to help revitalize the area and provide more jobs for young people.
There's still more work to do
Public school enrollment is down slightly, aggravated assaults are up, and not enough has been done to attract larger retailers to the area.
“We have to work harder, faster, quicker to catch up to North Dallas, and I think we are. I think we have that sense of urgency but we need to keep that intensity going,” he said.
Rawlings said the plan is to push more public-private partnerships and integrate GrowSouth into the city's daily operations. He’s looping in Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who will take the initiative beyond the mayor’s office.
“I’m committed to building upon the rich history of southern Dallas through this initiative,” Broadnax said. “Our strategies and approaches for making decisions and investments in southern Dallas need to be built around data – looking at market strengths that I believe will result in transformative projects in the neighborhoods in southern Dallas and create the ripple effect we strive to create in economic development.”
The hope is that the initiative can continue on after Rawlings’ term ends in 2019.