Downtown Front & Center Celebration is Saturday
By Office of Communication
Posted on April 27, 2012, April 27, 2012

A stretch of Front Street, between Center and Mesquite streets, will transform into a vibrant block this Saturday, April 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as a result of the effort from several University of Texas at Arlington graduate students.

The event, dubbed Downtown Front & Center, is a Better Block project that graduate students from the School of Urban and Public Affairs and School of Architecture are coordinating in partnership with Arlington businesses, organizations and residents.

What To Expect

The normally vacant block will be hopping with activity for four hours when local restaurants, artists, musicians, schools and other community organizations set up camp Saturday.

Downtown eateries like Potager Cafe, Grease Monkey and Mellow Mushroom will be there, as well as representatives from the Main Street School of Music and Theatre Arlington.

Other notable exhibits include:

  • A pop-up dog park
  • A children's reading area from Arlington Public Library
  • A children's art class
  • Bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly streets

Project Background

Downtown Front & Center follows in the footsteps of other Metroplex projects, the first being the Better Block project in April of 2010 in Oak Cliff organized by Jason Roberts. Then, later the City of Dallas created a living plaza event.

Professor Wanda Dye of UT Arlington's architecture school had been wanting to be part of a Better Block event for some time but waited until more students could be involved, according to Dr. Andrew Whittemore of the School of Urban and Public Affairs.

Dr. Whittemore's design studio class was tasked with the responsibility of organizing and marketing the event, while Professor Dye's students built a food court area.

Tony Rutigliano, Executive Vice President of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation, says that events like Downtown Front & Center highlight the area's potential. "It gives us an opportunity to think more broadly and think what's possible as we continue to develop and shape downtown," he said.

Community, Businesses & Students Benefit

Many people involved see the project as a win-win for everyone involved.

"It'll be a good opportunity for downtown Arlington because there's so much potential with the students," said Dr. Whittemore. "As the university moves toward Tier 1 status, downtown Arlington will be poised to take advantage of this."

Rutigliano agrees and thinks the event - and ones like it in the future - will help UT Arlington students become more aware of what's downtown, which in turn will help businesses.

Downtown Front & Center also proved to be a good learning experience for the students.

Megan O'Neal, who is on track to graduate with a masters in city regional planning next year, takes away valuable time management experience from planning and marketing the event.

"I think it's about budgeting our time. This is such a big event and it takes so much to plan it," said O'Neal. Her class started the assignment in March, giving students roughly two months to work through logistics.

For more information, visit Downtown Front & Center's website at

 Celebration is Saturday

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