ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — The latest expansion of downtown Arlington’s Urban Union district is getting underway.

Developers officially broke ground on the project, which includes five new mixed-use buildings spanning 50,000 square feet along Front Street, on Wednesday afternoon.

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The buildings will eventually be home to restaurants, retail stores, office space and 24 loft apartments.

(credit: VLK Architects)

“We see this unfolding as a locally owned business community, whether your business is a brewery, a bookstore, a vegan diner, or a pizza restaurant,” said developer Ryan Dodson, the president of Dodson Commercial Real Estate. “It will really kind of be reminiscent of a downtown district like Bishop Arts or downtown Grapevine.”

One of the biggest goals for the project is to reimagine Front Street, creating five new city blocks of walkable, downtown charm and connecting Urban Union district businesses to the Vandergriff Town Center.

“We’re narrowing the street, we’re widening the sidewalk, we’re adding trees, we’re adding lighting, all that sort of thing,” Dodson said. “We want it to be walkable. We want it to be pedestrian friendly. We want to invite people to come down here and explore.”

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At the ceremonial groundbreaking, Dodson was surrounded by city leaders and tenants who have already committed to being a part of the new project.

“It’s very exciting to be in Arlington, close to the entertainment district, down the street from UTA,” said Melvin Roberson, owner of Dough Boy Donuts. “There’s just so much growth.”

Dough Boy Donuts, Spiral Diner, Cow Tipping Creamery, and Coop’s Fowl Ball (a new sports bar concept featuring a family-friendly menu) plan to be a part of the new project, along with accounting firm Sutton Frost Cary LLP.

The company’s relocation marks the first newly built office building, of a major scale, in the heart of the city in decades.

“This is project for Arlington, by Arlington,” Dodson said.

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He hopes to see dirt moving on the site by the end of the year. By spring, Dodson expects some of the five buildings to be taking shape.

Caroline Vandergriff