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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When Erika Williamson originally moved to Downtown Dallas in the late ’90s, she was a trailblazer.

Today, she’s joined poolside on the 9th floor of her Main Street loft building with others walking their dogs or improving tans. “We’re empty nesters now, and we love to walk to our favorite restaurants”, she said.

Williamson no longer takes that walk alone. Dallas’ Central Business District is now a residential sector also.

More than 8,000 people populate apartments and lofts that sit within the defined “freeway loop” of 45, 30 and 35 that surrounds Downtown Dallas. Another 30,000 people live in surrounding Uptown, Victory Park and the Design District communities. The Downtown quadrant is now designated as a residential community.

“I have everything I want here now. A grocery store would be nice, though,” she said.

“This is a neighborhood now,” proclaimed Shalissa Colwell, downtown resident and marketing director for Downtown Dallas Inc. She points to an estimated 4,000 new housing units on-line and/or planned for the Downtown sector. High rise developments are underway on Elm Street. “People from California, Chicago and other locations want this lifestyle. Many are empty nesters who love to walk to the bars and restaurants. And more are coming,” Colwell said.

Williamson moved back to downtown last year. Her building has 300 residents.

“Yes, this is my neighborhood now.”

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