Photo courtesy of Dallas Film & Creative Industries Office

South Side Studios in Dallas will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation following its recent acquisition by Talon Entertainment Finance, according to release from the Dallas Film & Creative Industries Office.

Located just south of downtown Dallas, South Side is the only large-scale film & TV production facility & studio in the city. The existing soundstage has recently hosted the filming of shows like The Chosen, Dallas, and Queen of the South, among others.

The renovation will include a thorough upgrade to the existing buildings, as well as the addition of LED wall technology. Talon Entertainment Finance, led by co-founder Steven Demmler, plans to construct five soundstages to replace the existing soundstage, ranging in size from 8,000 to 25,000 square feet.

The studio will be home to a state-of-the-art post-production facility, production offices, a mill, a prop house, camera packages, and G&E packages.

It will also feature two new virtual production studios, including a 270-degree wall and ceiling setup with complete tracking and robotic camera equipment.

"Developing a large-scale soundstage is vital for any community to be truly competitive in the entertainment industry," said Tony Armer, Commissioner for the Dallas Film and Creative Industries Office, in a statement. "It’s a credit to the film potential in Dallas that Talon recognized this and was willing to quickly commit to support this project."

The studios will also be eligible for an extra 2.5 percent incentive bump from a state incentive package of $200 million put into place by Texas lawmakers earlier this year. According to the release, this will make it one of the most economical locations to house productions in the state.

The Talon Entertainment Finance team will offer economical debt from their film fund to all productions that shoot in-house, in addition to the potential of discussing equity for the right projects.

Portions of the studio will be open during renovations, with the aim to open fully by May 2024.

Welcome to Texas sign

New poll reveals shocking results on how outsiders view Texas

Surprise! You're not that bad

Despite calls to #BoycottTexas by sports groups, business groups, women's groups, and more over any number of state laws and public policies sparking national outrage (here's a recent list), a surprising new poll shows a majority of Americans view Texas in a positive light.

And, the recent findings are a noteworthy increase from a previous year's poll.

The survey from Crosswind Media and Public Relations shows 59 percent of Americans outside of Texas view the state favorably, with 33 percent having a “very positive” view of the state, and 26 percent having a “somewhat positive” view.

On the other side of the spectrum, 21 percent of those surveyed did not view Texas positively. Nine percent held a “somewhat negative” view, and 12 percent had a “very negative” view of the state. Only 17 percent of Americans polled held a “neutral” view about Texas.

The survey also asked about the state’s friendliness for starting businesses, raising families, and traveling on vacation. 66 percent of Americans saw Texas as a good place to start a business, 64 percent said it was a great place to raise a family, and 69 percent of respondents considered the state a great travel destination.

The business- and family-friendliness categories were 13 and 12 percent increases year-over-year from their 2022 survey. Additionally, their data suggests San Antonio is the leading vacation destination for most Americans.

In a press release, Crosswind CEO Thomas Graham remarked that the state is “heading in the right direction” by poll-takers, after last year’s poll resulted in only 45 percent of outsiders viewing Texas in a positive light.

"This survey demonstrates the durability of the brand of Texas as being pro-business, family-friendly, and a premier travel destination," he said.

But, does it?

Only 845 people were surveyed… by a public relations firm that's charged with "Branding Texas." So take that with as big of a grain of salt as you’d like.

The full report and its methodology is available on their website.

Photo courtesy of SmartAsset

Dallas neighbor is one of the hottest U.S. cities for retirees in 2023


Let’s think about it – you’re finally at the point in your life where you can retire, and you’re looking for the next home base that has just the right amount of tranquility to balance out the busy city life. In a new study, the North Texas burg of Frisco fits the bill, ranking as the No. 7 city for retirement-age folks nationwide.

In SmartAsset’s 2023 edition of “Where Retirees are Moving”, Frisco is one of two Texas cities that rank in the top 10 (the other being San Antonio, at No. 3).

This is Frisco’s first appearance on SmartAsset's list. The data show Frisco had a net gain of 960 seniors in 2021, with over 1,430 moving to the city from out-of-state while 476 left for a new state.

Only 13.16 percent of Frisco’s population is made up of people aged 60 and older, which is the lowest percentage out of all of the top 10 cities in SmartAsset’s study.

To be sure, Frisco is known as a family-friendly place and a hub of entertainment; it's got a new Universal Studios theme park on the way; The Star, home of the Dallas Cowboys, about to host the ACM Awards; and a brand new Omni hotel and resort is the mecca of PGA golf.

The top 10 U.S. cities where retirees are moving are:

  • Mesa, Arizona
  • Henderson, Nevada
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • North Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Frisco, Texas
  • Miami, Florida
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Raleigh, North Carolina

Here’s how other Dallas-Fort Worth cities stacked up:

  • No. 53 – McKinney
  • No. 59 – Irving
  • No. 76 – Arlington
  • No. 112 – Plano
  • No. 122 – Fort Worth (tied with Fremont, California)
  • No. 124 – Dallas

The Lone Star State itself placed No. 10 in SmartAsset's rankings of states where seniors moved to and from the most. According to their data, Texas had a net gain of 5,542 retirement-age people in 2021. Our warm climate seems to be a major draw for retirees, but the lack of state income tax surely doesn’t hurt.

Texas’ most recent rank is a five-place drop from SmartAsset’s previous study, which looked at migration data of people aged 60 and older in 2019. During that year, Texas ranked No. 5 and had a net gain of 9,305 seniors.

Similar warm states without income tax rates that made it on the top 10 in this year’s report include Florida, who has claimed No. 1 since 2016, and Nevada (No. 7). Both states had much higher net gains of retirees for 2021; Florida gained 78,174 and Nevada had 6,814.

Besides the lack of state income tax, there are additional tax benefits for seniors in Texas. Social Security, public and private pensions, and withdrawals from retirement accounts are also not taxed. And though Texas has the sixth highest property tax rate in the country, senior homeowners can reduce that liability through the state’s homestead exemption.

SmartAsset's experts offered some advice for future seniors who are debating on when to retire. One of their tips was to avoid retiring in a down market, which may lead to "sequence risk."

"Retirees looking to avoid sequence risk may employ a range of strategies to delay or reduce drawdowns in a down market," said Susannah Snider, certified financial planner and managing editor for financial education at SmartAsset. "Those strategies can include continuing to work, delaying retirement, withdrawing from cash or other non-investment accounts, and opting to reduce withdrawals or delay big expenses during early years when the markets are in the red."

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

This is how much money you need to live comfortably in Dallas-Fort Worth, new study finds

Money wise

Inflation is high, interest rates are skyrocketing, and honestly, just existing is expensive. Whether it be the price of eggs or a new car, trying to have a financially stable life in one of America’s largest metropolitan areas is becoming more and more difficult.

So, how much money do you need to make to live comfortably in Dallas-Fort Worth? Approximately $64,742 a year post-tax, according to a new study by financial tech company SmartAsset.

That’s an $11,000-plus increase from their previous annual report, where Dallas-Fort Worth residents only needed to make $53,680 a year post-tax to live comfortably in the area.

Their experts collected data from MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to determine the cost of living for a childless individual in the 25 largest American metro areas. They also used the 50/30/20 budgeting strategy to figure out what a “comfortable lifestyle” meant for the purpose of their study: 50 percent of their income goes to a person’s needs/living expenses, 30 percent to a person’s wants, and 20 percent for their savings or paying down debt.

To live a financially stable life, a childless Dallas-Fort Worth individual would need to spend $32,371 of their salary on their living expenses, $19,423 for discretionary expenses, and put $12,948 toward their savings or debt payments.

Considering rent has increased up to 15 percent since 2022 in some Dallas suburbs, that might be a tighter squeeze for some. And if you aren't a man, the Dallas-Fort Worth gender pay gap also plays a factor.

Susannah Snider, SmartAsset’s managing editor of financial education, says in the study that budgeting should be the “bedrock of many people’s financial plans.”

“And it’s especially essential to understand and track your spending when the cost of everyday items is rising,” said Snider. “Being able to stick to a 50/30/20 budget means you have enough to fund short- and long-term goals while paying for essential living expenses.”

To live comfortably in the largest metro areas in the United States, on average, an individual would need to make $68,499 a year after taxes, which is a 20 percent increase from 2022.

In other Texas metro areas, like Houston and San Antonio, a person would need to make $62,260 and $59,270 a year post-tax.

The full study and its methodology can be found on smartasset.com.

Rendering by Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects

New marketplace development will transform historic Texas Hill Country site

New Braunfels news

Changes are ahead for a beloved Hill Country town's historic downtown, with a new 2.5-acre mixed-use development set to transform and repurpose the former New Braunfels Producers Co-Op.

Slated to open in 2024, the new Co-Op Marketplace will feature a biergarten, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail, and park space with a stage for live music.

According to a release, the site transformation is the brainchild of New Braunfels-area entrepreneurs and business owners. The late, notable New Braunfels businessman Ron Snider was one of the entrepreneurs behind the Co-Op Marketplace idea, working in tandem with his business partners, attorney Mike Myers and real estate developer Fred Heimer.

Now, Snider's wife, Carol, and their son, Chris, owners of nearby Krauses Cafe + Biergarten, are leading the project in honor of Snider's original vision.

"This is a very exciting project to be involved with and it has evolved a lot along the way while still holding true to what my dad and his partners originally envisioned by bringing something unique to downtown New Braunfels that the community can enjoy," Chris Snider shared in the release.

New Braunfels Co-Op MarketplaceThe Co-Op Marketplace will transform and repurpose the former New Braunfels Producers Co-Op. Courtesy photo

With construction set to begin in 2023, the new co-op space will be roughly 2.5 acres and feature more than 25,000 square feet of indoor space for guests. The release shared plans to adapt the existing agricultural buildings for the development, transforming structures like the 65-foot-tall grain silo, which will become the market's west entrance.

Plans for the space include more than an acre of outdoor space for guests to enjoy good weather days, with a splash pad and 4,000 square feet of artificial turf, seating, and shade trees.

Co-Op Marketplace New BraunfelsThe new development will feature a biergarten, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail, and park spaces.Rendering by Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects

San Antonio-based architectural practice Mogas + Gonzalez have been heavily involved in the plans for the space.

"Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects has worked closely with the owners’ vision to repurpose and recycle the existing and historically designated agrarian Co-Op structures to craft a campus of indoor and outdoor spaces that invite the city and its visitors to relax, dine, and celebrate right in the heart of downtown New Braunfels," said architect Richard Mogas in the release.

The exciting new space will be located at 210 S. Castell Ave., New Braunfels. Guests can grab authentic German fare down the street at Krause's and walk down to the Co-Op, which will also have a 13,000 square foot marketplace for restaurants, vendors, and more.

UT Austin/Facebook

Texas hot spot hooks No. 1 ranking as best college city in America

Studies Show, Study Here

It might be a bit reductive to call Austin a college town, but that's what makes it so good. It certainly benefits from the creativity and industry of college living, but there's a lot more to do than go to gentrified lunches and cool, underground shows.

Recognizing this special balance, financial website WalletHub has declared Austin the No. 1 college city in the United States for 2023, beating out some obvious contenders like Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to being the best city overall, Austin also tops the large cities list, and is one of only two Texas locales represented in the top 10 of any category; the other is College Station, No. 6 on the small list.

The most represented state, perhaps not surprisingly, is Florida, with four cities in the overall top 10. The top 10 college cities for 2023, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Austin
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Gainesville, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Rexburg, Idaho
7. Provo, Utah
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
9. Miami
10. Raleigh, North Carolina

And how did Austin make the grade? WalletHub looked at key metrics across three categories to determine the rankings.

Austin scored best, No. 12, in the “social environment” category, determined by metrics like students per capita; breweries, cafés, and food trucks per capita; and safety issues like vaccination and crime statistics.

Its ranking at No. 21 in the “academic & economic opportunities" category puts it in the 95th percentile, even above Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, famous for their Ivy League prevalence.

And perhaps unsurprising to those who currently reside in Austin, the Capital City ranked worst in "wallet friendliness,” at No. 204 out of 415.

Elsewhere in Texas, El Paso did well on the overall list at No. 36, followed by Houston (No. 64), Dallas (99), Fort Worth (153), and San Antonio (169).

Dallas landed well down the list in every category: wallet friendliness (226), academic & economic opportunities (168), and social environment (147).

Fort Worth fell even farther down the list in the same categories: wallet friendliness (242), academic & economic opportunities (201), and social environment (149).

Notably, cities that tend to fall lower in similar studies ranked relatively well among college towns.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Ivy Tavern team to open divine new Dallas restaurant-bar inspired by Greece

Greek Food News

A veteran hospitality team is opening a new hang: Called Nikki Greek Bistro & Lounge, it'll be a restaurant and lounge highlighting Greek cuisine and will open at 5757 W. Lovers Ln. #101, famous as the home to the former City Cafe.

Nikki was created by Lisa and Tom Georgalis, who own The Ivy Tavern, and incorporates their favorite family recipes as well as unexpected dishes not commonly served in Greek restaurants in the U.S.

According to a release, it'll open in early 2024, and the day cannot come soon enough.

Named for Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, Nikki will serve as an upscale modern bistro and lounge where guests can grab pre- or post-dinner drinks, or stay for the night. The couple say they've been concepting this for more than seven years but got the push after their son survived a traumatic near-fatal accident.

"We felt an immense sense of victory in our son surviving the accident and when the perfect location was presented to us we took it as a sign that it was time to finally bring our concept to life," they say.

Lisa Georgalis learned to cook from her Greek in-laws where she learned and perfected traditional techniques and recipes.

“Most importantly, I also came to learn that Greek cooking is an art form, an event, and a delight not just for the palate. It should strike all five senses too," she says.

Leading the culinary team will be executive chef Blake Andress, a Dallas native who's worked in prestigious kitchens such as Mister Charles and The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. His goal will be to use seasonal and natural ingredients while celebrating authentic cuisine and culinary traditions.

"There’s something so powerful about food that allows us to connect with others, not only in our own backyards but across the globe," he says. "Our goal with the menu at Nikki is to expose guests to flavors and presentations they’ve never experienced while also offering inventive takes on authentic Greek fare. On the menu you’ll see inspiration from all regions of Greece including the islands, coastal mainland towns, and interior regions of the country.”

Tom describes the lounge as having "a socializing atmosphere in an environment reminiscent of popular '90s social spots such as 8.0 and Star Canyon."

Nikki will offer an abbreviated late night lounge menu and entertainment on weekends with the option to hold private events as well.

Design is by Ricardo Torres of Estudio Ricardo Torres with an elevated, modern, and chic vibe that veers away from the stereotypical Mediterranean blue-and-white only Greek restaurant decor.

Instead, the palette will offer varying shades of blue, green, terracotta, yellow, and cream. The space will boast special ceiling treatments, 18th century natural stone floors in the vestibule imported from an estate in Athens, and custom lighting and furnishings.

Nikki will be open Monday through Saturday for early evening and dinner. The lounge will stay open for late night drinks and bites on Friday and Saturdays. Complimentary valet parking will be available.

Enter DART's giveaway for free State Fair of Texas tickets

DART Can Get You There

If you're a loyal CultureMap reader, then you know all the ways to get every discount available for theState Fair of Texas.

Except this one: DART is rewarding 25 lucky winners with a four-pack of State Fair Premium One-Day admission tickets plus All Day GoPass DART passes.

These premium tickets are valid on any day of the Fair, which runs through October 22, 2023, with no advance reservations required.

To be entered to win this package,like this Instagram post and tag who'd you take to the Fair.

Then make sure you're following DART, CultureMap Dallas, and the State Fair of Texas.

The contest runs Monday, October 2-Wednesday, October 4. Winners will be notified via Instagram and a valid mailing address will be required, as tickets will be mailed via post.

Even if you don't win, taking DART to the Fair is the smart way to go. Here's everything you need to know for a smooth trip.

Lime re-launches e-scooters in Plano for first time since 2018

Scooter News

Lime scooters have come back to Plano: The company re-launched e-scooters in Plano, marking a return since their initial entry in 2018.

According to a release, Lime launched an initial fleet of up to 100 e-scooters over the weekend and is working with the city of Plano to scale its fleet up to 250 in an organized manner over time.

Riders in Plano will be able to access the e-scooters via the Lime app and on the Uber app platform thanks to Lime’s integration with Uber.

This follows Lime's relaunch of e-scooters earlier this year in Dallas. The company previously launched scooters in Plano in 2018.

“Lime is excited to partner with the city of Plano to provide residents and visitors with a safe, affordable, and sustainable way of getting around town. We have a proven track record of success in Texas and we’re thrilled to add Plano to our list of Lone Star State cities. Shared e-scooters help connect people to existing transportation options and provide an economic boost by connecting customers to small businesses. We look forward to bringing our global experience and stability to Plano as we work with the city to envision the future of transportation together,,” said David Sedbrook, Senior Director of Government Relations at Lime.

“Coming off a record year for Lime, we are proud to have achieved an acceleration in our strong performance in 2023” said Wayne Ting, CEO of Lime. “Riders around the world are demonstrating strong demand for low-cost, reliable and emissions-free transportation. We are encouraged that cities also recognize this as they continue to welcome and expand e-bike and e-scooter programs globally. Our year-over-year revenue growth and ability to operate profitably are strong signals for the long-term viability of Lime's business. This record first half is a strong endorsement of our investments in in-house hardware design, operational excellence and cultivating strong relationships with cities.”