Is Arlington All Grown Up?

By Mark Bauer

Ebby Halliday April 2020

I was driving west down I-30 one night recently when I looked to my left and thought I saw a familiar glimmer of a skyline. I’d been living outside the state for several years, and before that I was calling Dallas home. I hadn’t spent any serious time in Arlington since college in the early 2010s. How long had I been away? “Arlington is all grown up,” I thought to myself.


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The skyline I was looking at, faint as it may have been, was all the shining lights from the new development in the Entertainment District. Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium were easy to pinpoint amidst all the twinkling. There was Choctaw Stadium too. Next to that is the Live! by Loews’ mammoth $550 million hotel and the new Arlington Convention Center, as well as a new 300-unit residential community project being constructed by the Cordish Companies and Texas Rangers, expected to total 532,000 square feet.


That skyline, it turns out, isn’t by accident of course. Arlington Mayor Jim Ross told the Dallas Business Journal last year that it’s serious about attracting new business to the area, and it’s being intentional about creating a skyline befitting of it. He told the Business Journal that “Arlington is just getting warmed up.”


It certainly feels like something is cooking in Arlington. In our Local Eateries and Bar feature, we highlight Hurtado Barbecue, which started serving barbecue in a pop-up in Arlington in 2018. Around the same time, owners of 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge identified Arlington as a city that was primed for a growth spurt and they wanted to get in while the getting was good. 


Former Arlington mayor Jeff Williams can be credited with attracting a lot of the glitz and glam of this most recent development in his term from 2015 to 2021. But what’s less known is how his fingerprints are all over this city in his capacity as president and CEO of Graham Associates Inc., a civil engineering firm that celebrates 50 years of helping to build Arlington. In “Building Arlington,” we take a walk down memory lane as we let old newspaper clippings tell the story of the firm’s early days from its founding under Jack Graham to its leadership under the late Jim Wagnon.


In Finish Line, former mayor Richard Greene–who himself was instrumental in keeping the Texas Rangers in Arlington by jockeying for the old Ballpark in Arlington and who famously quipped that “Arlington is nobody’s damn suburb”–pays tribute to Arlington Today’s publisher, Judy Rupay, who was honored last month with the Inspired Women’s Luncheon “Hero Award.” The award recognized her commitment to this community as a businesswoman, former city councilwoman and mentor to countless young leaders who want to see the city thrive in its unwritten chapters.


Truth be told, Arlington has probably always been grown up. But that can-do spirit in us doesn’t stop us from continuing to reach for the sky.

UTA April 2020