20/20 foresight

You’ve likely seen the growth in Downtown Arlington recently. But, figuratively speaking, you haven’t seen anything yet – more changes are slated to happen in the area … soon.

Urban Union has given the downtown area a variety of entertainment options – and the list is growing. (Photo: Urban Union)

“Our vision for Downtown is a dense, urban core consisting of a wide variety of housing options, walkable entertainment destinations, office buildings and of course, shopping, bars and restaurants,” says Ryan Dodson, President of Dodson Development. The Arlington-based development firm is behind the Urban Union project, a seven-acre infill that is situated along East Front Street, just south of the City’s entertainment district.

“Legal Draft Beer Company is the anchor of the project and has drawn a lot of attention since opening a few years ago,” explains Dodson. “Legal Draft kicked off a flurry of new business openings that include Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery, Front Real Estate Co., 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge, The Tipsy Oak Ice House, Cartel Taco Bar, Inspirations Catering & Events, Lone Star Axe Throwing and several others.”

Urban Union has been so successful that Dodson and his team decided to move forward with Phase II of the project, which extends it five blocks, towards Center and Mesquite Streets.

Hurtado Barbecue, Wild West Comics and Cane Rosso have already signed leases.

Brandon Hurtado currently operates a food truck outside of Division Brewing on Saturdays. This will be the Arlington native’s first brick and mortar. It will offer Austin-style barbecue infused with Tex-Mex flavor in a 2,000 square-foot building featuring a farmhouse-style interior and dog-friendly patio.

Wild West Comics, which plans to move into a 2,500 square-foot space along Division Street, is run by Elaine Powell and her son Matt. Both are also Arlington natives who graduated from Arlington High School.

The Powells are no strangers to Urban Union. Elaine’s other son, Chris, is a founder of 4 Kahunas Tiki Bar.

Cane Rosso is opening its fifth Texas location. It has been named “Best Pizza in Dallas” by D Magazine for five years in a row and appeared on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” The restaurant is known for cooking its pizzas in less than 90 seconds, in a specially built wood-fired oven from Italy.

In addition to those leases, Dodson will soon break ground on construction of four new buildings on the current vacant land on East Front Street. They will feature retail space on the ground floor with contemporary loft apartments on the upper level.

“We have since seen a number of eclectic restaurants open and now are seeing increased demand for a wider variety of downtown residences,” says Dodson.

Dodson believes Downtown is becoming a “go to” for the City’s millions of visitors looking for pre- and post-game entertainment.

“When those guests look on Yelp or Google for what to do in the area, Downtown is a great option,” says Dodson. “It’s filled with original, eclectic and locally owned businesses, and it’s less than a mile away.”

There will be several more Urban Union tenant announcements coming soon. And Dodson shared news that his company has acquired land on North Mesquite Street to build 14 urban style townhomes that will be for sale at the end of next year.

“We are thrilled to play a small role in shaping the future of downtown,” says Dodson. “The transition of Arlington from a traditional suburban community to an urban, walkable neighborhood (at least in downtown) is very cool to see, especially after growing up there.”


Toni Randle-Cook

Toni Randle-Cook is a contributing writer for AT Magazine.