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Irving Music Hall Remains in Limbo, As Candidate Beth Van Duyne Opposes Project

The saga surrounding the Irving Entertainment Center looks like it's only going to continue for the next couple of weeks, as the Irving mayoral race will now go to a runoff election, set to take place on June 18.

This time, though, the center isn't being challenged by former Irving mayor Joe Putnam, who came in at a distant third in the May 14 mayoral election. Instead, it's coming from mayoral candidate and former Irving City Counsel member Beth Van Duyne, who actually inched by the incumbent Herbert Gears by earning 41 percent of this past weekend's vote.

"This project is destined for failure the way that it's currently designed," Van Duyne tells DC9. "If we want to see something in that area, we're going to have to get somebody else in there to do it."

Meaning: If Van Duyne's elected, it could be a lot longer before Irving gets the massive music hall promised by developer Billy Bob Barnett.

Barnett, who heads Las Colinas Group LP, has been working in tandem with incumbent candidate Gears to get the project off the ground. The centerpiece for the proposed Irving Entertainment Center is a music hall with a flexible capacity of 3,000 to 7,200, which, Gears claimed two weeks ago in an interview with DC9, will change the face of the live entertainment industry.

But Van Duyne believes that the music hall has been poorly developed.

"The music hall is not going to be the end-all-be-all," Van Duyne says. "First, you need to figure out how you're going to get the people there in order to have a music hall."

Despite her trepidation, though, Van Duyne still believes that Las Colinas could use some kind of entertainment center -- although not the music hall being planned in the development.

"A music hall would be a great addition to the city," she says. "I think it's presumptuous right now to do that."

According to Van Duyne, the project has gotten as far as it has, with a lot of presumptions on the city's part. And, if she's voted into office on June 18, she plans to hold an extensive audit to find out how Las Colinas Group LP has spent what she claims to be $36 million in pre-development money. (The Dallas Morning News has put the figure closer to $21.5 million.)

"I'd like to find out if there's a potential fraud," she says.

Regardless of what the audit might reveal, she says that Las Colinas Group LP has had it's chance to get the project off the ground -- and that they simply haven't produced.

"I'm not a big proponent of having someone who spent $36 million and hasn't produced anything other than drawings do something for our city," she says.


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