Once the cranes were set, social media channels began buzzing with the question, “When will the Irving Music Factory open for business?” The answer is late summer 2017, according to IMF developer Noah Lazes. The Irving Music Factory, long in the making, is an integral piece of the city’s massive Las Colinas Urban Center master plan.
The Vision and its History
The vision was born in 1999, when city leaders began working to create a distinct entertainment district aimed at providing a destination setting that would welcome visitors, corporations and residents, while delivering long-term economic strength to the community.
Irving had achieved significant success as a business destination, with a number of companies based here and a tremendous volume of annual business travel hosted here. The new city vision would provide an attractive, new community amenity that would appeal to the current and future workforces who were searching for active, walkable urban settings.
“Corporations interested in relocating to Irving always consider employees’ needs and desires, and those employees tell us they’re interested in finding a home that satisfies their needs for community, entertainment and green space. Irving has it all,” said Economic Development Director Scott Connell.
The vision also provided the nightlife and entertainment options the city’s rapidly expanding residential base requested. And finally, the project would drive additional revenue that would help fund the city during cyclical economic downturns.
In 2001, the city purchased the 40-acre tract in the heart of the Las Colinas Urban Center that would house this visionary district. The site is within seven miles of any of Irving’s 12,000 hotel rooms, and within walking distance or an easy drive for the majority of the city’s residential and corporate communities.
Its first component, the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, opened in January 2011, and averages more than 300 events annually. The Irving Music Factory is the second component. The final project, a Westin headquarters hotel, currently is expected to start construction in 2017 and open in early 2019.
The Irving Music Factory: Details
The $165 million project’s centerpiece will be the $40 million high-tech music venue that converts from a 4,000-seat concert hall to an 8,000-seat amphitheater. Large retractable doors will open to transition the building into an open-air amphitheater, giving its operator, Live Nation, seasonal options as well as tremendous flexibility in booking sizes and types of acts.
Other entertainment options will complement the music venue, including the popular Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Marketplace, which offers food and beverages with movie viewing, as well as a variety of restaurants and a comedy club. The development also will offer a large plaza with a stage to host other shows and entertainment.
A 100,000-square-foot office building is also part of the plan. Altogether, the eight structures will total approximately 900,000 square feet. A project of this scope requires contractor Skanska USA Building Inc. to employ tremendous muscle in the form of tower cranes. The monstrous cranes required 22 cement trucks each to fill the massive footings that stabilize them. The reach of each crane’s swing must be vast enough to cover each planned building completely.
Vertical construction on the Music Factory’s 17-acre site is expected to begin this summer. The parking garage walls will be the first to go up. Evidence of the amphitheater, restaurants and movie theater will be visible in the late summer or early fall. According to Lazes, all the buildings’ shells will be completed in early 2017, with construction finished by late summer.
The Urban Center’s transformation is near. “We are making rapid progress toward completing the destination setting that once was just a vision,” said Irving City Manager Chris Hillman. “Next year, the second leg will be complete, and the third and final component, the Convention Center hotel, will be under construction. These are exciting times for Irving.”