There are probably many reasons Victory Park hasn't lived up to expectations, declining in value by an average of 11 percent ($169 million) each year since 2008, according to city figures. You might subscribe to the notion that the project was flawed from the get-go, that it is "all the clichés about horrible urban design" shoved into 75 acres.
But a billion or so dollars in, it's a bit late for a fundamental rethink. So the city is focusing instead on a more manageable problem: the ocean of parking lots that surround the American Airlines Center and apparently keep people away from the overpriced restaurants and bars on the distant shore.
So last month, the Sports Arena TIF District approved a plan to put a 1,200-car, $33 million parking garage on seven acres just north of AAC. This would make way for a couple of apartment complexes planned for the site but, as the City Council's Economic Development Committee is being told this morning, "market conditions do not support construction of a new garage in the district without public subsidy," which will come in the form of TIF funds raised in part by a recent expansion of the self-taxing district.
The garage won't be built until 2016, but the City Design Studio gives us some ideas of what might be in the works.
There should be a "strong entry feature":
With "supergraphic/billboard opportunities":
And "an exterior screen comprised of high quality materials that screen the underlying structure, elevates its status and contributes in a positive way to the surrounding neighborhood and district." Like so:
To "activate the street and help attract and support a livable community as development occurs nearby," there should be retail, possibly in kiosks like these:
All of which is in the service of creating "an active urban destination and neighborhood that supports pedestrian activity, successful retail, and vibrant mix of uses."
The point, of course, is not the parking garage but the space it will free up for apartments, which would spur more retail development. That's the hope at least.