Suzanne Smith founded Social Impact Architects to reshape the business of social change. Last year, the public benefit corporation worked with early stakeholders in the announced Dallas International District. Plans call for a 450-acre neighborhood in the Valley View-Galleria Special Use District, anchored by an iconic 20-acre proposed park.

Funded by a public-private partnership, the initiative reimagines the former North Dallas mall site. With “The Commons” park at the heart of the development, the neighborhood will leverage best practices in smart cities and green design.

Two significant partner agency efforts include NCTCOG’s support for an automated transportation system and the Dallas ISD/Texas A&M-Commerce plan to create a pre-K-12 STEAM academy with a global perspective.

Black-smith is among the experts invited to share their thoughts on the CRE market for our recent DALLAS® magazine which focused on how DFW is punching above its weight in commercial real estate.

Here’s what she had to say about the Dallas International District project in our View from the Next Level.

How did you become involved in the recently announced Dallas International District project?

I grew up going to the Valley View Mall as a teenager – in fact, I bought my prom dress there. Like all longtime residents, I asked myself, “What’s next for this iconic Dallas neighborhood?” Shortly after the pandemic began, I was approached by Jayne Suhler, a good friend and former colleague from the Arts and Culture Committee, to review the current project and provide some ideas for the future. Cool ideas existed, but it required a solid business case, branding, and a bit of what I call “cat breeding” — my superpowers as a social entrepreneur at Social Impact Architects. The research confirmed the vision of an “international district” and we were excited to share it with all of Dallas in January.

What is your role moving forward?

It was a labor of love. As Benefit Corporation, we support one or two major projects each year, free or at low cost. That was the plan for 2021. … Going forward, I will always be engaged in some capacity and where I’m needed most.

What does the project say about Dallas as a city?

We now have a solid strategy for the Valley View-Galleria area that leverages the iconic area for the benefit of the entire region. It’s the perfect place to celebrate and inspire the diverse people and businesses of North Texas, as well as test some of our most innovative and environmentally friendly ideas through a new Civic Innovation Zone. Our slogan right now is “Connecting the world to Dallas. Sharing Dallas with the world.

I can think of nothing more important to the future of Dallas than what this project represents – it connects the dots for much of our most important work.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

A version of this story first appeared in the print edition of DALLAS® Commercial Real Estate 2022, published by Dallas Next for TREC and the Dallas Regional Chamber. Read more in the digital edition of the magazine below, and request the next print edition here.

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The real estate magazine is part of the DALLAS® media platform that includes the DALLAS® Relocation and Newcomer’s Guide to DALLAS® Guide to economic development. Posted by Dallas Next for the Dallas Regional Chamber, Together They speak to the world about the future of living, working, learning, and playing in North Texas.

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  • Reminder schedule

    North Texas has a lot to see, hear and watch. Here are our editors’ picks. In addition, you will find our selections to “save the date”.

  • Prepare for worlds to collide: With a 10-year plan in the works, the new Dallas International District will provide a one-stop location for international businesses of all sizes, along with a new 20-acre central park, international festivals, community gatherings, and a nearby PreK-12 STEAM International Academy being built by ISD Dallas. Funded by a public-private partnership, the district is also a testing ground for innovation with a civic smart zone and an automated people mover.

  • From demolished mall to global destination, a 10-year plan is being developed to transform the Valley View-Galleria area into an international hub for businesses of all sizes. Here’s a fresh look at what he could offer and how he could drive dynamic growth in Dallas for decades to come.

  • The hybrid event in August will take place in person at SMU and virtually. The seventh annual Dallas Startup Week, powered by Capital One, is Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest event focused on entrepreneurial success, economic impact and innovation in the region.

  • Check out this curated selection of competitions, nominations, presentations and grants. Our roundup of programs is aimed at North Texas entrepreneurs, businesses, creatives, inventors, educators, and impact innovators.

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