Attracting Economic Growth
"I'm passionate about my community," he said. "The goal was to build something that made my hometown a little better. My vision started with a beer brewery, but evolved into a restaurant as well."
Hodson took a unique approach to generating the capital for his small business. Using crowdfunding, he raised $30,000. The rest came from personal savings and a small business loan.
When asked why he chose Garland, Hodson replied, "Why not?" He had observed that Downtown Garland Station is well-used and he is confident that DART will continue to spur growth and positive change for the area.
"There are some awesome spaces down here and plenty of opportunity and flexibility," he said. "The city had a vision for our downtown when they joined DART and have built the infrastructure to support private investment."
Downtown Garland is just one transit-oriented development success story. In communities like Irving and Richardson, vast fields are being cleared, making room for residential and commercial development. Downtown revitalization also is taking shape in Carrollton, Plano and Rowlett.
Bonnie Shea, co-owner of restaurants Urban Rio and Urban Crust, is thrilled with the activity happening in Downtown Plano.
Urban Crust opened in 2009 and Urban Rio a few years later. Shea said the obvious location for both restaurants was in the heart of the community.
"We knew Downtown Plano was the place to be. It's accessible by DART Rail and offers a cool urban vibe that attracts people of all ages. It's a fun spot to live, work and play," she said.
Farther east, developers are constructing a $34 million mixed-use development near DART's Downtown Rowlett Station. The Village of Rowlett project calls for 225 residential units and about 20,000 square feet of commercial space.
In addition, plans for the 15-acre campus include green spaces such as a community garden, dog park, yoga lawn, bocce ball court and urban streetscapes. City officials are ecstatic about this transformative project.
"When the citizens of Rowlett voted to join DART in 1983, the hope was that light rail would eventually lead to economic development opportunities for the city," Mayor Todd Gottel said. "The Village of Rowlett development culminates a vision for downtown created by Rowlett citizens 30 years in the making."
Jack Wierzenski, DART director of economic development, said many consumers - particularly young professionals and empty nesters - find walkable, shopper-friendly and DART-accessible communities such as the Village of Rowlett appealing. As North Texas' strong economic climate continues to attract residents and companies to the region, he predicts more mixed-use developments will be built near light rail stations.
"Transit-oriented development is revitalizing, re-energizing and transforming communities across North Texas," Wierzenski said. "Since the DART Light Rail System opened in 1996, we have seen more than $5.6 billion in private development."
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