After the jump, a missive from John McKee, the McKinney Avenue resident who instigated getting the former McKinney Avenue Baptist Church designated a historic landmark. As you no doubt know by now, yesterday the Landmark Commission decided not to go forward with designation proceedings, which made the Hard Rock happy (now they can sell to Brett Landes, who may indeed tear down the building after all). McKee and proponents of designation were far less thrilled.
What still remains is this question: Why did city staff change its mind at the last minute and recommend denying designation, after only last week supporting such a move? Couldn't have anything to do with Hard Rock's threats to pull out of its alleged interest in building a hotel in Victory Park? (Alleged, because the only time we've heard about any such plans was during designation discussions; there has been no formal announcement of any plans for development down there, and Hard Rock officials will not confirm to Unfair Park that any such plans exist.) McKee, needless to say, found the process a little...dispiriting, echoing the comments of commissioner Michael Northrup, who said he believed that "a political decision is being made and imposed on this body" -- a sentiment he repeated during later discussions concerning the demolition of several downtown buildings to make way for the Main Street Garden, which will be enclosed by Main, Harwood, St. Paul and Commerce streets. --Robert Wilonsky
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I think the most upsetting thing about all of this is seeing first-hand the dirty tricks both the Hard Rock Cafe and Landes were willing to play with the community. Landes went in front of all of us and said he was not going to tear the structure down and wanted to work with the community. He had ample opportunity to work both with the city and with the community, yet he chose to do neither and now, though his representatives, he states he is going to tear it down.
I heard from two people that said they were told the meeting today was canceled, one of whom went to the last meeting in support and told me that she was planning on going to this one. All our agendas [yesterday] said the city staff recommended holding a decision to work with the owner, but that was changed at the last minute to a recommendation of denying it.
The legal representative for the Hard Rock went on record with the Dallas Observer saying that the reason that the residents of La Tour (I am one of them) were opposed to this is because it would block our views -- a flat-out lie, and I have provided photographic evidence of its falsehood.
This is apparently a done deal, and one of the most significant -- if not the most significant landmark in Uptown, a 100-year old church with an incredibly rich history and a place very important to the community -- is going to be torn down. I know I tried my very best to prevent it, so it won't be on my conscience, but I'm also not going to forget it. I'm not going to forget the things that Landes' representatives said and did, his unwillingness to work with the city and the community and his willingness to destroy something important to the community to make a quick buck.
I'm not out to make enemies. I want to do anything I can to make my community and my home a better place, and it's sad that developers, even one that publicly claims to be willing to do the right thing for the community, won't work with us. I was more than willing to meet with Landes and try and come up with a solution that would be beneficial to both him and our community. Instead, I feel he sold us out. The structure is still there, and it can still be saved, but only if Landes is willing to do it. I know there is still time to save the structure, but I have pretty much given up hope that Landes is willing to do it, despite what he and his broker told all of us.