The first mixed-use project designed and built around a multimodal, rail-based transit station in Dallas, Mockingbird Station has achieved what many once thought was impossible: it has convinced middleclass, automobile-driving residents to use transit. The transit-oriented development (TOD)—which contains 178,000 square feet (16,536 m2) of retail, restaurant, and cinema space; 137,000 square feet (12,727 m2) of office space; 211 loft apartments; and parking for 1,580 cars—is immediately adjacent and connected to one of the largest stations on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) rail line. The station also offers connections to bus, taxi, and shuttle service. Located four miles north of downtown Dallas, the ten-acre (4 ha) project makes use of very dense zoning; its approximately 500,000 square feet (46,450 m2) of rentable building area and 520,000 square feet (48,308 m2) of parking are unprecedented in density outside of Dallas’s central business district.
Mockingbird Station combines adaptive use with new construction. Two existing structures—including a historic Western Union telephone assembly building and an office building, which has been expanded—constituted the project’s base. The developer, UC Urban (now Hughes Development, LP), made the risky design decision to place the project’s “front door” at the rail station platform rather than along the freeway exposure—and to give the project the same name as the station. The result has been that customers and other visitors clearly see how they can get to and from the project by train, and many patrons regularly use DART.
The project’s many inventive, cutting-edge features made it difficult for the developer to obtain approvals, infrastructure improvements, financing, and retail tenants. The city was ill prepared to consider the project’s unusual traffic and access issues, given its adjacency to transit, while the transit authority was inexperienced in dealing with the needs of developers; construction was thus delayed by several months. Extraordinary efforts were required to obtain both short- and long-term equity and debt funding. The developer had to pay for all road improvements and for the full cost of connecting the project to the rail platform. The developer received no reimbursement from the public sector for assuming these costs, and the project benefited from no special tax districts or permit abatements. The developer was able to obtain—on behalf of the city and the transit agency—federal funding for off-site pedestrian access improvements to the area. Overall, relentless efforts were needed to “sell” the project to government officials, lenders, and prospective retail tenants alike.
Complete since July 2001, the first phase of Mockingbird Station has proven remarkably successful, particularly since TOD was an untried concept in Texas. Residential occupancies have consistently outpaced the market, with above-average rents for the area. The retail and office space are, respectively, approximately 88 and 92 percent occupied. Future phases are expected to include a hotel and additional retail or residential uses. Mockingbird Station has proved to city, county, and state officials that a properly conceived mixed-use TOD can succeed and flourish by serving the adjacent neighborhood while acting as a catalyst to increase transit use.
The Development Team
Hughes Development, LP
RTKL Associates, Inc.
Selzer Associates, Inc.
Site Size 10 acres
Office Space 137,000 sf
Retail Space 178,000 sf
Residential Units 211
Hotel Rooms NA
Parking Spaces 1,580
Max Floors 4
Date Started: 2000
Date Completed: 2001
Project Web Site: www.mockingbirdstation.com
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