Stephanie Hudiburg: Deep Ellum Imagination

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Stephanie Hudiburg stands in an empty parking lot facing Crowdus Street in Deep Ellum and looks into the future. “We are reimagining this street. It will be a pedestrian gathering space where the community can come together.” As the new Executive Director of the Deep Ellum Foundation (DEF), Stephanie has her vision set on serving the historic Dallas neighborhood in a holistic way that impacts not only the area’s economy, but the individuals who call Deep Ellum home.

When Stephanie first moved to Dallas from D.C., she settled into a role at the Real Estate Council, giving Dallas legs to her policy background. Her experience managing its educational programs, public policy engagement and working with members, coupled with a stint as an intern at the State Department and as chief of staff to a Massachusetts state representative, has proven to be excellent preparation for the work waiting for her in Deep Ellum. “Community development from a policy lens has always been my passion,” Stephanie said. “I wanted to explore what economic development looks like from the federal, state, and local level.” It is now her turn to step fully into the local development piece of the puzzle as Deep Ellum grows at a rapid rate.

With murals around each corner, Deep Ellum is known for its community of artists and entrepreneurs, so DEF’s staff of four is creating strategic programs to connect business owners with creatives and neighbor to neighbor. Bi-monthly business owner meetings rotate between local spaces, and there are plans to expand the gatherings with open studio events and activate unused space for common gathering grounds. The DEF team also began featuring one Deep Ellum resident each month on their social media channels, working to share more stories of creativity and humanity in the neighborhood.

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Known for its vibrant nightlife, Deep Ellum is working to re-establish its reputation as a safe and inviting corner of downtown Dallas. Working closely with Phil Honoré, Senior Manager of Public Safety and Security, Stephanie has increased neighborhood patrol services, security guards, and police officer presence during the weekend patrol. The programs have already paid off with a nearly 10% decrease in crime between 2017 and 2018. Phil brings 25 years of law enforcement experience, including time as a Pentagon special agent, to his work at DEF. “Deep Ellum is safe,” Phil says confidently. “To me, Deep Ellum is as safe as it’s ever been, and we are working to make it even safer.”

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Stephanie is also honest about the dynamic that people facing homelessness bring to Deep Ellum. “The homeless population is an important part of our community,” she says. “We are working to better serve people and connect them to nearby services like CitySquare, Austin Street Center, and The Bridge, and The Office of Homeless Solutions.” Stephanie is quick to point out that law enforcement must go hand in hand with the ability to compassionately address concerns and help those who lack permanent shelter.  

Beyond working on policy and economic planning, Stephanie and the DEF team are also responsible for much of the daily neighborhood maintenance like lighting and landscaping. As she rounds a corner, she stops to check in with a cable company crew to ensure that they don’t dig up her newly laid sprinkler pipes. Protecting the 21 historic overlay buildings in Deep Ellum while also making room for new development is no simple task, but Stephanie stays inspired by all of the residents and business owners who have chosen to make Deep Ellum their hub, from the wait-worthy barbecue at Pecan Lodge to Brake and Clutch, a family run event venue. “Deep Ellum has had ups and downs, but our local business owners are able to see to the vision for sustainable growth,” Stephanie says with a smile. “I get to step in and leverage the great work that is already being done.” Partnering with the Deep Ellum Community Association on projects like the Outdoor Market and Urban Garden, Stephanie has a robust picture of how the neighborhood will take shape in the next decade, and who will make it thrive - “Deep Ellum is for allcomers.”

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Story by Mary Martin. Photos by Hunter Lacey.

Mary Martin