The Cedars, One of Dallas' Hottest Neighborhoods, to Be Site for Two Huge Developments

The Cedars dances to the beat of its own drum, but that’s to be expected in the city’s artsy enclave. While the Dallas Arts District—located on the other side of Downtown—is an architectural wonderland with world-class cultural venues, The Cedars is an edgy community where a tribe of creative personalities live, work, and play. Creative homeowners are lured by the neighborhood’s inventive energy, and non-creative-types, entrepreneurs, and visitors are drawn by the gritty vibe. 

Since The Cedars is one of Dallas’ oldest neighborhoods, it has had many faces since the 1870s. In its initial heyday, it was a haven for Victorian mansions and the city’s wealthiest business owners, which included Stanley Marcus, founder of the elite Neiman Marcus stores that began in Downtown Dallas. 

But when the neighborhood’s affluent population began a mass migration to North Dallas and East Dallas, they took The Cedar’s prestige with them. As the once-stoic mansions deteriorated, the district shifted to an industrial area where Jack Ruby—who killed JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald—operated a strip bar, brothel, and theater. Though visitor traffic had come to a screeching halt, a few brave souls ventured into The Cedars after the Kennedy assassination and Oswald shooting just to get a glimpse of Ruby’s buildings.

When the neighborhood hit rock bottom, up was the only way to go. The revitalization began then and continues today with two transformative projects in the works.

Location, Location, Location

Old Dallas courthouse on the edge of Downtown / Shutterstock

The Cedars still had one thing going for it: a superb location on the southern edge of Downtown Dallas near major highways and exchanges.

In the early 1980s, developer Bennett Miller was the first to recognize The Cedar’s urban potential, and he started the revitalizing movement by purchasing a string of old buildings that he repurposed into trendy lofts. One of his most notable projects was a redo on the American Beauty Mill flour plant, which offered loft owners breathtaking skyline views. Another iconic redevelopment was the century-old building that had housed Jack Ruby’s brothel.

Two decades later, Miller added another layer to the movement by building a row of townhomes, which was the first new construction in the Cedars in around 60 years. He likewise set the precedent for selling—rather than renting—residential space so that owners would have a vested interest in the neighborhood.

Proposed Townhomes for Cedars / Courtesy of Urban Lofts Townhomes

By 2000, The Cedars had finally overcome its seedy years and was on the fringe of becoming Dallas’ next urban success story. Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, captured the media spotlight when he purchased the Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue Merchandise Center and redeveloped it into a full block-sized, mixed-use development. Rebranded the South Side on Lamar, the mammoth project includes 120,000 square feet of retail and office space as well as 457 residential lofts and 25 artist lofts.

Matthews also redeveloped old buildings around the South Side for the NYLO Hotel, Alamo Drafthouse, Gilley’s, Poor David’s Pub, Southside Flats, The Cedars Social, The Beat Condominiums, and several other bars, restaurants, and businesses. And today The Cedars is widely known as one of the hottest neighborhoods and visitor destinations in Dallas.

Texas Bullet Train Terminal

Texas Bullet Train Terminal / Courtesy of Texas Central

When the 200 mph Texas Bullet Train—among the many transit innovations poised to revolutionize Dallas — zooms out of the station in six or seven years, the station in North Texas will be situated on a sprawling 60-acre spread in The Cedars. 

In addition to the neighborhood’s mindset for innovation, its location at the Interstate 30 and Interstate 35 interchange is a convenient fit for regional travelers who need to make a fast trip to Houston.

Based on data from Texas Central, developer of the $12 billion high-speed train, about half of Texas residents live in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metro areas. While drive-time for the 239-mile trip exceeds four hours in moderate traffic, 55-minute flights include at least an hour in airport hassles. 

Travel on the Texas Bullet Train is a 90-minute trip to Houston, which includes a midway stop in the Brazos Valley. In contrast to frustrating flight scheduling, trains will leave the station every 30 minutes during peak travel times and hourly during off-peak times.

Texas Odyssey Observation Wheel

Courtesy of GFF ARchitects

The Texas Odyssey, a 500-foot-high observation wheel that’s taller than the London Eye, is the latest innovation slated for The Cedars. After crunching tourist numbers in Houston, San Antonio, and other Texas cities, developers opted for Dallas and The Cedars based on their robust visitor attractions, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The Ferris wheel-like structure will not only add another dimension to the skyline, but also give visitors and residents alike an opportunity to view the skyline and cityscapes from a variety of angles. 

Location for the Texas Odyssey is planned on seven acres along the banks of the Trinity River on Riverfront Boulevard, which is adjacent to the future Texas Bullet Train site. Aside from the 38-minute ride with multimedia and multisensory features, developers say the grounds will include retail and restaurant options along with an outdoor performance venue, education center, and parking garage. 

“Visitors will be able to access and experience the Trinity River via pathways and walkthroughs for pedestrians as well as public spaces on and around the wheel site," an announcement for the project states.

We've just released an update for neighborhoods.com!  You can click here to refresh and use the latest version.