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DALLAS-In a world chasing panaceas for economic stress, one leading expert believes the key to sustainability, durability and success in the 21st century lies in cities’ reinvestment initiatives for infrastructure and water resources.

“The point is sound infrastructure leads to more prosperous places,” said William H. Hudnut III, senior resident fellow of the Urban Land Institute and former mayor of Indianapolis and Chevy Chase, MD. Hudnut was the keynote speaker at yesterday’s community breakfast, an annual event sponsored by the Real Estate Council. The TREC event, held at the Fairmont Hotel in the Dallas CBD, attracted 550 professionals from business and government.

Hudnut’s stay included a tour of select areas of the city, taking him from lunch in Victory Park, a cosmopolitan hub that’s risen from a redeveloped brownfield, to its poorest neighborhood, Jobba, where Habitat of Humanity and city leaders are diligently working on a revitalization plan. His broad assessment is Dallas is on the right track with projects like the Woodall Rodgers Park, Trinity River Corridor Vision and DART line expansions tied to transit-oriented development.

Hudnut’s gold star came with a caution that, probably unbeknownst to him, carried special meaning for local politicians. “It takes leadership. You’ve got to have a plan and stick to it,” he said. Not so long ago, some elected officials led a campaign to overturn five years of planning on the Trinity River Corridor project.

Like many other cities, head-butting over sundry issues has derailed and delayed long-sought initiatives for scores of projects. In Dallas, Mayor Tom Leppert has stepped into a political arena hoping to advance the city, but undeniably facing a council with a reputation of dissension and open wounds from past conflicts between members and the former mayor.

Equally important to a city’s success are its strides in sustainability from bricks and mortar to providing workforce housing and protecting water resources. “You have to focus on it and act on it,” Hudnut stressed. “Anything you spend to extend the DART system through the communities will be well spent in the long run.

“The question is where does Dallas want to be 20 years out. You don’t want to be a city that deteriorates as the 21st century goes on,” Hudnut stressed. “It all takes planning. Cities able to offer a high quality of life will be the winner. And, I think Dallas is a winner and will be a greater winner as this century goes on.”

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