Tornado Recovery Emphasizing Urban and Climate Resilience

The report from the Urban Land Institute Advisory Services Panel I led August 10-12, 2020 on increasing the urban and climate resilience of Walnut Hill/Denton Drive Dallas Area Rapid Transit station in Dallas, TX is now out!

Download Full Report

ULI was asked by the City of Dallas to convene a Virtual Advisory Services Panel (vASP) focusing on a study area around the Walnut Hill/Denton Drive Dallas Area Rapid Transit station. Our panel was asked to provide recommendations on how to promote greater social cohesion within the study area’s business and demographic populations while promoting climate resilience and environmental justice. 

Summary of Recommendations

  • Foster an authentic sense of place along with a sense of community;
  • Make the area safe and welcoming through supportive strategies;
  • Provide connectivity and address climate resilience through ecological, placemaking and infrastructure enhancements
  • Adapt the study area to increasing extreme heat and flooding through green and resilient parks and open spaces
  • Enhance mobility within the study area; and
  • Encourage commercial and residential development that enlivens the transit station and surrounding area, increases housing choice, and supports the community’s vision.

Enhancing the Resilience of the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station Area in Dallas, Texas

I led an Urban Land Institute (ULI) virtual Advisory Services Panel on enhancing the resilience and revitalization of the area around the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station in Dallas, Texas from August 10-12, 2020. The area was heavily impacted by the EF3 tornado that touched down in October of 2019, which is being compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the community and economy. The City of Dallas, the panel sponsor in partnership with the JP Morgan Chase & Co. Resilient Land Use Cohort (RLUC), asked us to make recommendations related to:

  • The policy and regulatory adjustments that should be considered to impact localized investments and broaden the types of small and minority-and-women owned business enterprises in the study area;
  • Policy, planning and design opportunities to reduce resident vulnerability to extreme heat and other extreme weather;
  • The types of infrastructure investments that would make multi-modal transport easier and more frequented by the area’s residents and workers;
  • Design types and infrastructure needed to attract and sustain a growing population of mixed-income residents while ensuring climate resilience and environmental justice; and
  • Which stakeholders and organizations need to be brought together to impact the physical environment, economic growth and quality of life for residents and workers.
Our ULI virtual Advisory Services Panel and staff.

After reviewing the briefing materials, doing research on the site and its challenges and opportunities, remotely touring the site via a drone, and speaking with a variety of community members, businesses, and decision-makers, the panel deliberated potential paths forward for the area. A central approach we discussed was to ensure that our recommendations not only reduce vulnerability, but also strengthen the area’s environmental performance, economic opportunities, and social equity. Based on our discussions, several key themes emerged including the importance of keeping an authentic sense of place, addressing safety issues and perceptions, strengthening a sense of community, enhancing connectivity, becoming more green and resilient, providing living and transportation options, and taking advantage of current opportunities now.

Our panel’s recommended next steps were to:

  • Coordinate and support the existing group of champions,
  • Engage social services and providers to help the most at-risk individuals,
  • Activate the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station parking lot,
  • Install bilingual wayfinding,
  • Identify and publicize a safe an accessible resilience hub, and
  • Explore development financing tools to leverage current opportunities.

The slides and full video presentation of our panel’s recommendations are available on the ULI website.