There's a new president heading up Uptown Dallas Inc.: Nolan Marshall. He arrives via New Orleans, where he was director of public affairs and policy for the New Orleans Downtown Development District. In Dallas, he will oversee and further expand Uptown's capital improvement projects, community building, maintenance, and public safety.
Marshall took time for a chat soon after he arrived in Dallas, and his excitement for his new city was obvious. "It feels like home, so it must have been home in another life," he said. We're happy you're here too, Mr. Marshall.
Question: What in your background led you to Uptown Dallas Inc.?
Answer: I had always been interested in building places, not in the architectural sense but more in terms of neighborhood and urban development. The experience of a place, you know? When New Orleans was completely wiped out by a natural disaster, we had a unique chance to completely remake a place.
Over the last 11 years, I worked in a variety of capacities to rebuild the city, through being a directors of public affairs and policy, creating a masterplan for the biomedical district, working in criminal justice, education reform —everything I could get my arms around. As we got past the recovery stage, we got to start asking, "What sort of city do we want it to be for next 20-30 years?"
Q: What in Uptown Dallas' upcoming plans are you most excited about?
A: The expansion of M-Line Trolley and the Katy Trail, and continuing to make the area more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.
Q: Describe your perfect day in Uptown.
A: Any day I get to stay in Uptown has been the perfect day for me so far. I like to have brunch with my family, shop, and walk and explore.
Q: What three words do you think best describe Uptown?
A: Walkable is first, but then there are two terms we use in New Orleans that I think are applicable: beaucoup, which means "abundant," and lagniappe, which is "something extra." Uptown has everything you expert in an emerging neighborhood, but there’s still that something extra.
Q: You have a young son, so what are your views on Dallas public schools?
A: They actually really attracted me to Uptown Dallas Inc., because I had been board member at a charter school in New Orleans and witnessed how great neighborhoods and community participation are what make for the best schools. School goes beyond four walls; we’ve got to embrace that idea in Uptown and invest in our schools whether we’re parents or not. People always talk about "live, work, play," but I’d like to incorporate "learn" into that.
The first people to reap growth in an area are the young professionals, but in order for them to stay and not move to the suburbs when they become parents the schools have to be really good. If you can get the schools right, you can make the community sustainable.
Q: What are you looking forward to exploring in Dallas?
A: The State Fair. It sounds like Texas’ version of Mardi Gras.