Attendees of ULI’s 2022 Fall Meeting in Dallas will have the chance to visit two master-planned communities northwest of the city’s downtown: Las Colinas and Cypress Waters. Both began life with unusually large office components as part of their mix and have evolved to encompass a wider range of uses.
“A lot of mixed-use master-planned communities have a strip center or a grocery-anchored retail center on the corner, and maybe a couple of office buildings, but most of the land is dedicated to single-family housing and amenities,” says Tim Glass, director of strategic planning for the Las Colinas Association. “Both Las Colinas and Cypress Waters are very heavily weighted towards corporate development. The residential side is very important, but it’s almost a complementary use.”
Both communities also involved substantial public/private partnerships. Las Colinas was planned in the early 1970s on 12,000 acres (4,860 ha) of land. “A lot of Las Colinas is built on a reclaimed floodplain, so a tremendous amount of work had to be done, sculpting the land to make it buildable,” Glass says. “It’s an amazing civil engineering project that required a tax increment finance district to help finance the work.”
The Dallas City Council created a tax increment finance district for the 1,000-acre (400 ha) Cypress Waters in 2010. “The city brought a multijurisdictional approach to connecting this area, the site of a decommissioned power plant and cooling lake, which was not really connected to the rest of the city,” Glass says.
The tour will start at Las Colinas Urban Center, which has grown over the last 10 years to encompass a broader mix, including significant residential uses. The city of Irving recently revitalized Williams Square Plaza at the urban center’s heart and restored the Mustangs of Las Colinas, bronze sculptures of horses that serve as a symbol for the community. “The renovations turned a 1980s-era open granite plaza into a soft, lush environment while still respecting the original vision,” Glass says.
The Toyota Music Factory entertainment complex is also on the tour, with food venues and shops, a movie theater, and the Pavilion at the Toyota Music Factory. The Pavilion can convert from an intimate 2,500-seat theater to a 4,000-seat indoor theater, and can also open up to the adjacent lawn to accommodate 4,000 more audience members.
In Cypress Waters, the tour will include the Sound, the community’s commercial/entertainment core. “Cypress Waters has been very deliberate in their urban design to add variety and avoid having that sterile feel of buildings all put up at the same time,” Glass says. “They’ve done cool things with textures and facades and green space to make the place feel authentic and natural.”
Both communities are a short distance from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. “Big companies started relocating to Las Colinas in the 1970s and 1980s, and a big reason for that was the fact that it was near one of the most modern airports in the country,” Glass says. Now public transit connections are part of the mix, too: the DART light-rail system opened a station in Las Colinas Urban Center in 2012, and a new DART line with a station serving Cypress Waters is under construction.
Note: This tour has sold out.