Last month, Aldo Fritz was named president and CEO of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation, succeeding Tony Rutigliano, who recently opened
Urban Alchemy Coffee + Wine Bar. Here, Fritz, who studied Urban and Regional Planning and who worked in urban planning positions in Florida and Dallas, shares his vision for one of the more important areas of the city.
Arlington Today: How did your prior experience, both collegiately and in the business sector, prepare you for the new job?
Aldo Fritz: I’ve always been interested in the story behind the story. With my Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida Atlantic University, I have the toolbox to share that story with others in a compelling way while also working to write the next chapters. In addition, my designation as a certified planner by the American Institute of Certified Planners allows me the validation within the urban planning.
As a city planner in Dallas I got a cockpit view of government dynamics, land acquisition, processes, policymaking and building relationships with stakeholders. An excellent example was the Bexar Street Redevelopment project, a comprehensive community development approach with emphasis on mixed-use redevelopment of a neighborhood commercial spine. The intention of the project was to serve as a catalyst for development to occur in the future, [transforming] a neighborhood that was overridden by dilapidated housing and suffering from high crime rates and high poverty levels.
AT: What are your impressions of Arlington?
AF: The more I get to know Arlington, the more I love it. City leaders are dedicated and smart policy-makers; residents love their neighborhoods and their schools (as evidenced by the overwhelming support of the bond package in 2014).
AT: What drew you to seek your new position?
AF: I moved to Arlington two years ago because I was priced out of Dallas when I was looking for a home. After searching for the “perfect home” over a span of several months through the DFW Metroplex, I discovered Arlington.
It only took one initial drive-through for me to determine Arlington was for me. Established communities, non-cookie cutter homes, kids riding their bikes throughout the neighborhoods: Arlington offered a Norman Rockwell-type of setting that I was seeking.
Throw in the fact that the homes are affordable and within close proximity to all the major attractions in the Metroplex, major highways, and DFW Airport, my initial reaction was that it was too good to be true.
All the major pieces to the puzzle are here. It is only a matter of putting the puzzle together. Downtown Arlington, I truly believe, is the hub within the hub that will bring everything together.
AT: So how will you help put the puzzle pieces together?
AF: I’m not here to create a brand-new vision of Downtown Arlington. Arlington city leaders, business owners, residents and other stakeholders already have a vision of what Downtown Arlington can and should be. They just need help in achieving it. People want the “downtown experience,” which entails being able to walk around, enjoying a show, exploring a new boutique, grabbing a bite to eat, or maybe even finding a place to sit and read, study or visit with friends. Specifically, we will focus on several key areas, including:
• Arts and Culture: Together with individual artists, arts organizations and UT Arlington, DAMC will strengthen the unique identity of the Arlington Cultural District. This includes a continued commitment to music of differing genres, new murals and public art, events celebrating cultural diversity and coordinated marketing efforts.
• Connectivity: DAMC will support successful execution/completion of the Abram Street Redevelopment project, use the #myAbram communication platform to encourage patronage during the construction period, and seek new, future opportunities for improving pedestrian and bike mobility within and to Downtown Arlington.
• Entrepreneurship: We want to foster growth of small business and encourage access to co-working spaces and other resources to accelerate new business development.