Elva Roy would like to take people interested in visiting or moving to Arlington on a virtual tour through the city.
Roy, founder and lead ambassador for advocacy group Ambassadors for Aging Well, purchased equipment to help her film and photograph the city to create a digital journey through notable parts of Arlington. She has practiced with her new equipment around her neighborhood near Parks Mall and would like to go farther out for the tour.
“If I could do a walking tour up and down Cooper, that would be great,” Roy said.
Improving walkability along one of Arlington’s most heavily used roadways make up some of over 50 recommendations in a city study of South Cooper Street. The 229-page report lays out a mix of short- and long-term goals, including beautifying the corridor with green space and public art, easing challenges for transportation and pedestrians and improving drainage at Johnson Creek.
Roy served on the advisory committee composed of neighborhood groups, business owners and leaders that helped piece together the report over several months, and the city gathered ideas through public hearings and more than 850 survey responses.
“I’m glad to see that the city’s taken an interest in this and we are getting some progress done and not just ignoring the corridor,” said Derek Carter, who represented Heart of Arlington Neighborhood Association on the committee.
Residents can comment on the plan during City Council’s next meeting April 27; council members will vote in early May whether to adopt the report. However, several council members complimented the study when it was introduced Tuesday.
“It’s bold, but I think it’s doable,” said Helen Moise, District 1 council member.
UTA, Parks Mall zones for Cooper Street study
The study, while including recommendations for the street as it stretches from UTA Boulevard to Bardin Street, suggests ideas tailored to area’s features.
Revamping Cooper Street’s intersection with Matlock Road is the first priority for the area that covers UT Arlington, as well as additional housing options, improved pedestrian safety and public art programs.
The study considers its second zone, between Arkansas Lane and Arbrook Boulevard, an innovative small business district, where businesses should focus on collaborative projects with UTA to bring research and development to the area. Housing, increasing walkability and providing professional development or job-finding programs are also included in the area’s priorities.
The study’s final zone, which includes Parks Mall and ends around Bardin Road, is designated for shopping, entertainment and dining. The report recommends establishing the mall as a regional shopping destination and considers ways to modernize the center as online commerce pulls away customers from physical storefronts. The study also calls for increased pedestrian safety along Interstate 20 and its exchange with South Cooper Street, as well as connecting hopping centers so customers can visit multiple locations by foot.
Roy said she was happy with the study recommendations, although she worries Parks Mall may not be able to withstand shifting retail trends.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to the Parks Mall,” she said.
Carter, while unsure the retail area could be made more walkable, said he’s eager to see some of the shorter-term recommendations enacted as soon as possible. Longer-term recommendations that require redeveloping property and redesigning roads could take decades to complete.
“The safety can start to happen now,” Carter said, as well as beautification-related recommendations.