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Comet Town Comes to UT Dallas

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Just after I graduated from Southern Methodist University in the late 1980s, a friend of mine lived in an apartment at UT Dallas because her husband was a PhD student. I thought the campus looked so barren — a sleepy university with no trees, no beautiful old buildings, no history — compared with my alma mater and I remember thinking, “Why would you want to live here?”

I didn’t realize then that this young university was slowly inventing itself, building a unique and amazing history of its own.

Back then, none of these buildings even existed: the Activity Center, the residence halls, the Arts and Technology building and the Jindal School. In fact, at the time, the bookstore used to reside where the new Arts and Technology building is today. Of course, it wasn’t like the early days of UT Dallas — in the 1970s — a time when the earliest UT Dallas faculty described seeing tumbleweeds and cows outside their window. But it was certainly not the bustling college community with more than 23,000 students that we have today.

Which is why I’m so glad to see one of UT Dallas’ newest developments, Northside at UT Dallas, or Comet Town, a mixed-use neighborhood featuring townhomes, shops and restaurants, make its way onto the northern edge of campus. This is a trend in student housing development that students are going to embrace. This is also the natural next step that the University needs to take to attract more students, creating a destination that will further enhance the overall campus experience.

If you look at college campuses like UT Austin or SMU, there are dozens of quaint shops and wonderful restaurants just steps from campus. AT UT Dallas, students and faculty can’t just walk to shops and restaurants … at least not now. Comet Town is expected to be open for business for the arrival of next year’s freshmen, August 2016.

I’m so excited to see this live-work-play development taking shape north of campus and looking forward to seeing what restaurants and shops end up calling it home. There is already a waiting list for on-campus housing, so not only will this community, which is located near the intersection of Synergy Park Boulevard and Floyd Road, adjacent to a future commuter rail station site, help fill a demand for more units, it also will give students more places to hang out and have fun. It will give the University a sort of “insta” community that most young college students and young professionals crave.

I am really glad UT Dallas decided to take this step because I believe it’s needed for future growth, particularly if the University wants students to live on campus and have the full “college experience” that many students desire.

In fact, I could see down the road another mixed-used development built fronting the Campbell Road side of campus. Perhaps it could be called “Southside at UT Dallas.” With the demand for on-campus housing ever increasing and available land running out, the University might need to consider building some denser high-rise buildings similar to the dorms and apartments near UT Austin. Some 10-story high-rise residential communities with street-level retail and park space would be great once the Northside development is filled.

But for now, I believe the University is heading in the right direction. The campus is a prime location, and I hope the new community is a success and encourages similar development in the future.

Retail tenants of Comet Town have not yet been revealed, but it would be so nice to have places like a Bed Bath & Beyond … or even better, a movie theater like the Angelika at Mockingbird Station. If an Angelika opens at this community, I know where I’ll be spending hours on the weekend.

Jill Glass

l Glass is a communications manager at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Southern Methodist University and is a former newspaper and TV reporter. She has two children: a junior at UT Austin and a fifth grader at Prairie Creek Elementary in Richard Read more articles

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