Betting on TOD

For that reason, the anti-sprawl movement has placed its biggest bet on a traditional form of development with a new, geeky-sounding name: transit-oriented development. The idea is simple—and in fact TOD was the predominant pattern up until World War II, whether in major cities or in "streetcar suburbs." Cluster homes, offices, and stores around transit stations—for subway lines, light rail, or commuter trains. The approach doesn't make anybody sell the family car, but it does provide an awfully convenient option for many trips—especially the commute to work. Because everything has to be within a quarter mile of the transit station—studies have shown that's about how far people are willing to walk—TOD is, by necessity, dense.

Just about every one of the 211 residents at the lofts at Mockingbird Station still owns a car, which can be conveniently parked in a garage directly underneath the renovated telephone-manufacturing factory near Southern Methodist University in Dallas. But given the choices in the Dallas area—a region not exactly known for dense urban living—what's surprising is that so many people have flocked to Mockingbird Station in the first place. The lofts are right next to a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) station, a cinema called the Angelika—and approximately four thousand boutiques and bistros dotted all around the complex. Actually at last count it's ten food purveyors and twelve stores—Margarita Ranch, Rockfish, Gelato Paradiso, the Spike tapas

The suburbs are abundantly available in Texas, and most people live there. But increasingly, young professionals in Dallas are choosing to live in places like Mockingbird Station, which offer access to transit and culture and entertainment. For them the amenities of density are worth the trade-off of ample space and a yard. Anthony Flint.

The suburbs are abundantly available in Texas, and most people live there. But increasingly, young professionals in Dallas are choosing to live in places like Mockingbird Station, which offer access to transit and culture and entertainment. For them the amenities of density are worth the trade-off of ample space and a yard. Anthony Flint.

bar, Trinity Irish Pub, Chaucer's Steakhouse, the Reikyu sushi bar, a Starbucks, a Cold Stone ice cream shop, Café Express, Victoria's Secret, a Virgin Records megastore, Bath and Body Works, GAP, four local boutiques, a jewelry store, a stationery store, a bank, and, fittingly, an Ann Taylor Loft outlet. The development, brainchild of Dallas developer Ken Hughes, emphatically fits the definition of mixed use: homes, stores, and offices, all clumped together, all clustered around a transit station.

Trey Corry and his wife Marci could have bought a house out in the sprawling subdivisions of Plano or Little Elm, but instead they chose this newfangled urban scene. "This isn't common for Dallas and that's a huge plus," he says over a steaming Colombia Nariño at the ubiquitous Starbucks on the ground floor. It's true there is not much room to spread out, but there's virtually no upkeep, he points out, and there are balconies—"I call them concrete yards"—and the swimming pool and deck on the third floor, which sit as if on the stern of a giant luxury liner, overlooking downtown Dallas. Being near social settings and being able to travel conveniently are the trade-offs for space, Corry notes. "When you do apartment living there is a certain sense of being boxed in, but when you give people restaurants and everything literally within reach, they'll give up the space—at a premium price. I know people who go to Rockfish for dinner a couple times a week."

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