All right, everybody take a knee. Madame mayor, city council, local entrepreneurs – gather round. The city of Irving, Texas needs a pep talk badly and I’m here to be the Coach to your hapless group-of-misfits. Your city is falling into a downward spiral of irrelevance and if somebody doesn’t provide some tough love, it could soon be too late for a comeback. I see the potential for success, but the drive, will, and determination has to come from within you. Let’s break it down.
Irving is the sixth most populated city in the DFW metroplex after Big D, Funkytown, Arlington, Plano, and Garland. It would easily beat Mesquite, Richardson, or anybody else in Dallas County for the title of Dallas’ favorite little brother. Even things that are unquestionably rooted within Irving city limits are somehow allowed to use the Dallas moniker (i.e. Dallas Cowboys, University of Dallas). But your own residents are bored and the few attractions that existed to bring in revenue from outside visitors are being siphoned off to sexier, more adventurous townships.
Numerous large businesses call Irving home, including the Fortune 500 companies ExxonMobil and Kimberly-Clark, as well as nationally recognizable non-profits like the Boys Scouts of America and NCAA’s Big 12 Conference. But if you don’t work in the city, the only time your spending in Irving is to drive through it. And if you DO work there, once its quittin’ time, you’re having to traveling out of city limits to fulfill your entertainment needs. Potential Irving entrepreneurs – your target audience is already there, they just don’t have anything to keep them there right now.
Here are the 5 main reasons that Irving is losing its foothold as a vital suburb.
Strike 1: Las Colinas Urban Center never took off
This live-work-play community was built to be a destination for young professionals to settle into and never need to leave – a mini-Downtown Dallas, if you will. Unfortunately for the Urban Center, it did become alarmingly similar to the current state of downtown Dallas: an area that lacks much of note and has difficulty keeping retail, restaurant, and residential tenants. Looking for a place to eat in the Urban Center only provides a few options and when one’s finished admiring Lake Carolyn for ten minutes, finding other ways to occupy your time is difficult. There is a reason the small APT “people mover” rail line that exists in Las Colinas Urban Center only runs Monday through Friday until 6 PM. The nightlife just isn’t there. Why would I want to live in price-inflated apartments for the sole benefit of walking to my office building, when I can live a 3 minute drive away from the Urban Center for hundreds less a month in the same type of apartment? It’s not for the opportunity to sell my car. I still would need to drive to do any shopping, including groceries, and once I grow tired of the handful of restaurants in the Urban Center, I’ll also need a car to eat out.
Strike 2: Wright Amendment Flight Restrictions will be lifted on Dallas Love Field in October
While this will be an indirect effect on Irving, its significance is overwhelming. Dallas-ites are going to be flying Southwest Airlines out of Love Field more than ever before once they can finally get cross-country without having to stop in El Paso first. A large part of DFW Airport is within the city of Irving and a trip to/from the airport takes travelers on miles of Irving highway encouraging them to stop at the closest restaurants and gas stations, while also staying at the closest airport hotels, if needed. It’s a sheer numbers problem, and the more travelers that are tempted away from DFW, the less revenue that will be available to local businesses. This will likely cause current businesses to close and make it less attractive for prospective employers to build in those areas.
Strike 3: Loss of Texas Stadium
Texas Stadium was Irving’s premier entertainment destination, opening in 1971 and imploded in 2010. Fans from all over the region would gather in Irving to cheer on the Dallas Cowboys every football season. Countless neutral-site high school and college games as well as concerts and other events were held at the stadium famous for its hole-in-the-roof. The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s most profitable franchise; losing the tax revenue associated with tens of thousands of fans spending money at the stadium is a major blow. Irving was still a potential player in the Cowboys’ relocation efforts, but ended up losing out to Arlington. Thus, AT&T Stadium is the home of the Cowboys going forward on Sundays. Once demolition was complete, the site that Texas Stadium once stood on was leased to the Texas Department of Transportation and is used mostly to store road construction supplies and equipment in a deal lasting through 2020. Any hopes that the area will host a new regional attraction or mixed-used community in the immediate future can be left along with the TxDOT rubble at SH 183 & Loop 12.
Strike 4: Loss of Dallas Cowboys Headquarters and Training Facility in Valley Ranch
Due to the need of being at Valley Ranch for practice most weekdays, players as well as coaches and other personnel bought property in the area. Media members covering the Cowboys would stay and spend money in Irving. Having the prestige of being the home to the Dallas Cowboys kept the city of Irving on people’s lips nationally. Now the Cowboys will be training and headquartered in Frisco starting with the 2016 season. Every sense of status, honor, and monetary benefit that Irving had will be lost. It is fascinating that a distance of 10 miles once separated Valley Ranch and Texas Stadium back in the day, both being in different parts of Irving. However, the distance will now increase to 35 miles between the future practice facility in Frisco and AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Players and personnel will move to what’s convenient, if they haven’t already found an area they like. Irving is likely out.
Strike 5: Shopping
There is nothing – Irving Mall, and that’s it. And coming from someone that has been to Irving Mall within the past two years, I can say it is a sad state of affairs over there. The mayor of Irving even admits in the Dallas Business Journal that her residents have complained about needing to travel to Southlake or Dallas for decent shopping options. Malls may be passé now, but people do still need brick and mortar retail therapy sometimes. As much as it hurts to admit, Amazon doesn’t sell everything; plus, there are times when waiting for something to ship just won’t do.
Now it may seem like I’ve been drinking Haterade, but trust me, I want Irving to be relevant going forward. It benefits us all to have a variety of respectable entertainment options spread out across the metroplex, as opposed to being concentrated to just a few areas. I know that the potential is there for Irving and the land/real estate is still there, so somebody with a vision needs to step up to make things happen. Within the past few years, baby steps have been made to positively impact Irving’s future, including the completion of the DART Rail Orange Line and the opening of the Irving Convention Center. These success stories add perceived value to adjacent land and invite the opportunity to bring more of what people want to the areas, but development is slow and plans have had trouble materializing in the past.
Irving, you are NOT out of the game yet. Find the fire within you and RISE to the occasion. Fear of the unknown is the ONLY thing that can stop you. If you want the respect of your competitors, you MUST FIGHT for it because they want NOTHING more than to leave you in their dust. You can do this! Are you ready? Show them what you’ve got! Teamwork on three! Teamwork on three! ONE, TWO, THREE…