News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

'Little by little,' Arlington's downtown comes together to attract people, businesses, officials say

Three Arlington officials siting and holding microphones address the crowd at E.H. Hereford University Center onstage and in front of a blue-lit curtain. Maggie Campbell, who heads Downtown Arlington Management Corporation, wears an orange dress and looks at Mayor Jim Ross as he makes comments and wears a black suit and white dress shirt. UTA President Jennifer Cowley, donning an orange shirt and neutral blazer, listens.
Kailey Broussard
Downtown Arlington Management Corporation President Maggie Campbell, left, speaks with Mayor Jim Ross and UT Arlington President Jennifer Cowley about downtown growth at the E.H. Hereford University Center July 20, 2022.

After decades of building Arlington’s downtown and entertainment district, residents and businesses are starting to come, Mayor Jim Ross said Wednesday.

It’s a matter of connecting one to the other, especially ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The separation between two areas can leave people confused about what the city has to offer, Ross told a crowd.

“People have a misconception that we’re just entertainment or just downtown or (the international corridor) … We have it all going on and it’s going to start to flow together,” Ross says.

Ross and UT Arlington President Jennifer Cowley discussed downtown’s growth with Maggie Campbell, who heads Downtown Arlington Management Corporation. The non-profit works with the city, businesses and UTA to revitalize the downtown area after city leadership directed growth elsewhere.

The latest downtown efforts have involved improving walkability and working with nearby neighborhoods, Campbell says.

“Little by little, we’re filling in the gaps in the teeth and it’s all going to come together,” she says.

Developers have launched several apartment projects downtown. Dodson Commercial Real Estate started construction late last year of 24 loft apartments and a roster of new businesses in its development known as Urban Union. The firm ECM Development won Council approval for 65 two- and three-bedroom homes along Second Street in September 2021. Main 7, a luxury townhome development, recently advertised luxury townhomes for rent along Main Street.

The projects add to the mid-rise apartments Park Place and 101 Center, both of which have opened in the last several years.

Part of downtown’s strategy must include lifting nearby neighborhoods, which are among the most disadvantaged census tracts in the city, Ross says. Part of that plan includes creating housing with affordable price ranges and compelling employers to improve wages.

“We have to create that atmosphere in the downtown area where people can look here and say, ‘This is the place that I can come and make a living. This is a place that has the businesses here,’” Ross says.

Cowley says UTA is working on plans to create spaces for students along campus borders and installing more benches and lighting for safety.

“We’re certainly focusing on the livability elements, increasing the safety and walkability, adding streetlights, putting benches—things like that that can make it easier for students and others to come to our campus and get to downtown,” Cowley says.

Construction is underway on a new combined social work and nursing building on UTA campus, which frees up the old social work building.

“People have already been pitching me on some good things that we can bring to that site,” she says.

Ross says teamwork between UTA, downtown officials and the city, as well as relationship-building, will create stronger connections across town ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

“What makes a successful downtown is our ability to build and nurture relationships with our residents, with our businesses and with our community,” Ross says.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability.