The real estate community is at the forefront of Dallas’ revitalization efforts, education reform, and volunteerism.

Take a look inside the very heart of The Real Estate Council. From the outside you may only see Fight Night and the Fall Gala—glitzy hobnobbing opportunities. But those events raise millions of dollars that support the Woodall Rodgers Deck Park, housing and community revitalization efforts in South and West Dallas, education forums, mixed-income/transit oriented developments, and other initiatives.

Young-leader programs at TREC and ULI get our future leaders indoctrinated into not only the can-do nature of the Dallas-Fort Worth real estate community, but also an eye-opening look at the needs of our region and how real estate development and investment can help address those needs and make our cities healthier across all social/economic demographics.

My parents never forgot growing up in the Depression, and it colored their lives and actions. As we start putting the Great Recession in our rearview mirrors, I doubt we will forget the last three or four years, which have altered our perception and our reality forever.

Real estate is returning to fundamentals, not the least of which is “location, location, location.” DFW will grow from 6 million to 9 million residents by 2030, and we will double in size by 2050. This rapid growth will focus attention on urban core real estate. Instead of just thinking about real estate as an island “project,” where and how we develop—and the impact development has on the surrounding community and the region as a whole—need to be prime considerations.

Consider the revitalization of an old affordable housing development close to downtown Dallas, which is currently low density, 100 percent low-income, and where the initial proposal was to redevelop this large land tract in new low density, 100 percent low-income housing. That is the old school real estate development thought process, where we waste prime urban land and expensive infrastructure and saddle the urban core with more of the same for a long, long time.

Reimaging this important tract of land would instead consider the need for density, mixed-income and mixed-use, and how the property and its redevelopment integrate with the street, adjoining retail, and neighboring single-family homes. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to either do redevelopment right or very wrong. Apply this new thought process across thousands of similar tracts and properties, and you transform the urban core and the region.

We live in historic times of real estate opportunity, with the potential to create a new reality—if we look to the greater good and not just at our “projects.” Dallas has by far the most talented real estate development community in the country, and with a little creativity, how and where we develop and redevelop over the next 10 to 20 years will have a huge impact.