Downtown Arlington Block is Front and Center at Celebration
By Office of Communication
Posted on April 30, 2012, April 30, 2012

Even as downtown Arlington is booming, the grassy stretch of Front Street still sits vacant.

Not on Saturday.

The block of Front Street between Center and Mesquite streets was transformed into Downtown Front & Center, an event organized by University of Texas at Arlington graduate students in partnership with Arlington businesses, organizations and residents.

Saturday's event offered a little something for everyone. Friends tossed a football and listened to live music while dogs frolicked in a pop-up dog park. Participants tried yoga classes and martial arts lessons and children attended story time and arts classes. Downtown restaurants, including Potager Café, Grease Monkey and Mellow Mushroom, were on hand as well as representatives from Theatre Arlington and Bike Friendly Arlington.

UT Arlington students from a design studio class taught by Andrew Whittemore, a professor in the School of Urban and Public Affairs, organized and marketed Downtown Front & Center. Students in a class taught by Professor Wanda Dye of UT Arlington's School of Architecture built a food court area.

"This vacant lot could be so much more," said Ashley Shook, a UT Arlington graduate student. "It would just take a little bit of hard work, creativity and cooperation and that is what we wanted to show."

Residents and business owners alike said a thriving downtown is good for everyone.

"I've lived in Arlington nearly my entire life, and this is such an exciting time for our city," said Julie Grimmett, who lives near UT Arlington and owns Coco and Cocoa, a handmade knit and crochet shop. "I love the urbanization of downtown Arlington and want this trend to continue."

When Terrell Whitehead moved to downtown eight years ago, he said there was little to do or see. Now, he has noticed new businesses and more people walking, bicycling and relaxing on restaurant patios.

"Downtown has completely changed," said Whitehead, an artist who restores antique furniture. "We need more events like this to bring people down here."

Whether it becomes the site of a new local business, a dog park or even an entertainment venue, organizers said the vacant lot shows great potential.

"You can look around and see all of the possibilities," Shook said.

Center at Celebration

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