The Cityplace Sam's Is an Urban Planning Tragedy, But Blowing Up Buildings Is Awesome

The Cityplace Sam's Is an Urban Planning Tragedy, But Blowing Up Buildings Is Awesome

On Wednesday morning Connor, my 5-year-old, shot up in bed with panic on his face. DID THEY ALREADY BLOW UP THE BUILDING? He'd been wanting to know this since the previous weekend when, as we drove past the hollowed-out skeleton of the ACS building on Central Expressway, I told him we could watch the structure's upcoming implosion. I kept reminding him that it was scheduled for Sunday morning, but while he's great at remembering that shit's going to explode, he's terrible at keeping a calendar.

When Sunday finally rolled around, we drove to where cops had shut down Central and walked down the service road, joining a small crowd in front of a Seventh-Day Adventist church. As we put up our hoods against the light drizzle, I started to explain how, while the explosion would likely be awesome, it actually represented a failure of the city's planning process. I thought of telling him how neighbors had been sold a vision of a mixed-use urban village while developers manipulated the zoning process to make way for a Sam's Club, of how this particular property could have been a key piece of Dallas' urban renaissance but instead was going to be transformed into a generic big-box store. But then I noticed his blank stare and I shut up.

The building was gone in an eyeblink. Connor pressed his hands to his ears as the charges detonated across the highway and the building melted into a waterfall of concrete.

Connor explained as we walked back to the car that he thought it'd be different. In his mind, they were going to shoot some sort of bullet at the building and that it would explode in a dazzling burst, flames and debris flying everywhere. (There would also no doubt be lots of colorful plastic blocks, as his knowledge of explosives engineering is derived almost entirely from The Lego Movie.) Which meant that the actual event had been a mild disappointment. He'd been expecting the awesomest thing he'd ever seen; instead, the implosion was merely awesome. Still, he agreed, not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

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