City Hall

Meanwhile, Council Gives Craig Hall What He Wants: Big, Bright Signs in the Arts District

A few weeks ago we noted that developer Craig Hall finally wants to build in the Arts District -- 25 years after he first came to the city with those extraordinary renderings of that spiraling tower. But he has maintained for months that the proposed Hall Arts Center, which would sit across the street from the Meyerson Symphony Center, is a no-go unless he gets the OK from the city to put tenant signs on the building -- which appalls some residents and building owners in the Arts District who're afeared of rendering the area too ... vulgar.

As Hall put it to the city council moments ago, "You cannot get tenants to pre-lease a substantial space without a sign, which is why we are here." And he had many supporters, among them Downtown Dallas Inc. President John Crawford and former council member Veletta Lill. Said Crawford, prospective Arts District and downtown tenants all tell him the same thing: Without "competitive signage options available, there is little to" no chance they'd ever make the move. "I think the bottom line is this is an economic development decision, and it relates to the growth [and] prosperity of downtown," Crawford told the council.

And so moments after the council killed that Lower Greenville bowling alley, it voted to give Hall what he wanted, more or less: one sign on each side of the building, so long as they're put at the top of the building. There were other restrictions too, the result of a last-minute compromise reached at noon, said council member Sandy Greyson. But in the end, he got what he wanted two weeks after the absent Angela Hunt tabled the discussion till this afternoon's meeting.

Of course, this guarantees nothing.

Before the vote, Sheffie Kadane asked Hall: "Does this get the building built?

To which Hall responded, "This is a helpful step, but it is not an assured thing this gets the building built. We're doing construction drawings now with all-local people. We were prepared if this did not pass to stop drawing and shelve the whole thing."