The Irving area has had no trouble the past decade in attracting big business within its boundaries, just east of DFW Airport.

Thanks to a vote of confidence from the city’s taxpayers, authorizing the outlay of public dollars for a convention center and adjacent entertainment district in 2007, the area is home to five Fortune 500 headquarters and 54 Fortune 500 firms with significant operations in the city.

But now it’s time to fill out the third leg of the “live, work, play” refrain that cities and developers sing so often in order to attract the next generation of workers and homebuyers to town. And play, Las Colinas’ buttoned-up crowd will, with the opening of the Pavilion at Irving Music Factory on Aug. 31, just east of the President George Bush Turnpike and right next door to the Irving Convention Center, which opened in 2011.

“You’ve got this monster weekday population, and almost no entertainment in the immediate area,” said Noah Lazes, president of ARK Group, the developer behind the 250,000-square-foot Irving Music Factory project. “Las Colinas is the epicenter of the DFW market, smack in the center of the fourth-largest market in the U.S. It’s a location that draws from all directions.”

The Pavilion will do more than plug Irving’s entertainment gap as the first piece and primary anchor of the new development’s footprint. It will also, as Lazes suggested, be a central location that all of a sudden makes Irving a more potent draw for entertainment dollars from Dallas and Tarrant county residents.

“Irving/Las Colinas is definitely a community that is built for business,” Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce CEO Beth Bowman said. “We are a corporate headquarter hub. We haven’t had the ‘play’ piece in place for those employers looking to locate in a thriving area today, where you not only get to live and work, but you also get to play. This is one of the exciting pieces where we can say to the community, the region, the nation, the globe, ‘Hey, let’s play.’ 

Irving economic development director Scott Connell estimated in January that the Music Factory would bring 1,500 jobs to town and about $14 million in local sales tax revenue during a 10-year period.

The Pavilion opens with a bang right before Labor Day weekend, with two shows from enigmatic comedian Dave Chappelle, who resurfaced in March with two Netflix specials after shying away from consistent public appearances for much of the previous decade. LiveNation will manage the space and, of course, do all the booking for the venue, which can be reconfigured for 2,500-, 4,000- and 8,000-capacity events. The 8,000-seat amphitheater configuration allows for outdoor lawn seating, making the Pavilion almost a miniature version of Starplex in Dallas.

That puts the Pavilion in direct competition for acts that play venues like Grand Prairie’s Verizon Theatre (capacity 6,350) and Dallas’ Bomb Factory (capacity 4,300).

The Sept. 1 appearance by Chappelle was sold out Wednesday morning, while a few single tickets were still available for the Aug. 31 show. Country star Brad Paisley, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy’s Backyard BBQ, and Lifehouse and Switchfoot round out the venue’s opening weekend.

Bill and Hillary Clinton speaking engagement is scheduled for the 4,000-seat indoor theater setup Nov. 17.

As the Pavilion gets off and running with its first season, restaurants and other attractions will trickle into place throughout the fall. The grit and grind of constant construction since June 2016 will finally give way to an influx of entertainment destinations. A seventh DFW Bar Louie location is scheduled to be one of the earliest entrants into the Irving Music Factory development, in September, with most other attractions, including an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, scheduled to open in November or December.

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizza and Kabuki Japanese Restaurant are also scheduled to open in December, with nightlife options like the upscale nightclub Martini Ranch and C-Bar, with its comprehensive list of scotches, scheduled for January 2018. Martini Ranch and C-Bar are among five venues that will be collectively marketed as Big Beat Dallas by one of the most recognizable names in Fort Worth entertainment.

Billy Bob Barnett, founder of Billy Bob’s Texas, joined with Seattle-based Restaurants Unlimited to create five restaurants and bars — and a farmers market — within the Music Factory development. In a tonier district like the Music Factory, they don’t really qualify as “joints,” like his most famous Tarrant County venture.

Instead, Barnett has been behind the vision for Bar Manzanilla, a combination Mexican scratch kitchen and night spot; Highway 61 South, which will offer burgers and barbecue; Texas Jam House and Marketplace, a 24-hour Southern kitchen; as well as Martini Ranch and C-Bar, Lazes said.

They are all scheduled to be in place by January 2018. In all, 25 restaurants and entertainment options are slated to go into the new development.

With that flagship entertainment district in place, Las Colinas won’t just be the 22.5 million square feet of office space it’s known for today. After a decade of anticipation from folks within that community, it could begin to pull in entertainment dollars from all corners of the Metroplex, rather than push its growing population out to Dallas or Fort Worth on weekends.

 Presented by Star-Telegram, August 24, 2017
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