Something new and different occurred over downtown Arlington early Wednesday as a pair of skydivers parachuted towards the lawn of the Levitt Pavilion at Founder’s Plaza.
Which was the point: there’s something new and different about downtown Arlington.
One of the skydivers carried a flag emblazoned with a new logo, which spells d-o-w-n-t-o-w-n in colorful letters and playfully alternative typefaces along with the words “music, culture, food and shopping.” The flag was swiftly hoisted on the flagpole at the pavilion, where it now flies.
The Downtown Arlington Management Corporation carefully designed the spectacle to showcase downtown Arlington’s new, hip attitude.
“It’s all about building excitement,” said Tony Rutigliano, Executive Vice President of the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation. “Downtown Arlington has never had an identity per se. People consider it the place they come and pay their traffic ticket or check out a library book. What we’re trying to do is say, hey, you can check out a concert at the Levitt. You can attend a play at Theatre Arlington. You can eat at one of eight restaurants. We want to be a destination.”
The morning also featured the cover band Velvet Love Box performing on the pavilion stage and included such rousing words from Mayor Robert Cluck and UT Arlington Associate Vice President for Communications and Community Relations Amy Schultz that the event took on a City Pep Rally feel.
By the time the crowd at Levitt Pavilion dispersed some of the 170 banners were already being hung on downtown streets. Next up: electronic billboards and print and online media advertising.
“Things are really moving here,” said Mayor Cluck. “You can see and feel it, and the best part about this is how it’s being achieved as a group.”
Schultz of UTA said the university, the City, the downtown business community and nearby neighborhood groups have built a tight relationship envied by college towns.
“If (UTA) President Spaniolo were here,” Schultz said, “he’d say that a Tier 1 university and a Tier 1 downtown go hand in hand. That we’re on our way to achieving those goals.”
The Downtown Arlington Management Corp. has been around since 2006 with the intentions of spurring downtown development. Since then a new Center Street extension to Interstate 30 has made downtown access easier and restaurants such as Mellow Mushroom, Grease Monkey Burger Shop & Social Club, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, along with an eclectic collection of new shops, have joined downtown mainstays like J. Gilligan’s Bar & Grill.
Trolleys were available to whisk people away to see some of those restaurants, which is what Stephanie Robertson of Arlington did, even though she attended the event after seeing on Facebook the band was playing.
“What a pleasant extra surprise,” she said. “Skydivers, food, great music. This is what downtown should be about. Not a place you drive through to get to somewhere else but a place you go specifically to have a good time.”
By Ken Perkins