Belo Foundation Buys Up Land Intended for Downtown Dallas Park

Much to the benefit of downtown dogs and their owners, Harwood Park, one of the primary fixtures of the city of Dallas' downtown park plan is one step closer to actually happening.

The Belo Foundation, stepping in for a city it said doesn't have the money to buy the properties proposed for the park, announced that it's acquired 1.57 of the 2.32 acres of privately owned property needed to build the park.

"With the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department's tight budget and a current absence of available bond funds to acquire the land for Harwood Park, The Belo Foundation trustees were concerned that the site would be purchased by developers attracted by the rapid growth and progress in the expansion of the Farmers Market District. Land prices in the area are on the rise, and the Foundation trustees worried that the City might have found itself priced out of the market by the time bond funds become available for land acquisition," the foundation said in a press release.

The accompanying map shows what Belo's bought -- the area covered by yellow lines -- and what's left to acquire -- the rest of the area inside the yellow outline. The buildings facing Harwood Street, on both sides of Wood Street, are of particular interest because they are a part of the Harwood Historic District.

"They're all important buildings," David Preziosi, Preservation Dallas' executive director said of 312, 314, 408 and 410-12 Harwood Street. "Even if they're slated for demolition as part of the park plan, they still have to go to the Landmark Commission to get approval to demolish those buildings."

The buildings along Young Street, already purchased by the foundation, are not significant he said. As plans for the park develop further, Preziosi hopes the historic buildings will be incorporated.

"I think park land is good within the city, especially downtown. We just want to make sure that these buildings will be taken into account with the development of the park," he said.

The foundation has already been instrumental in the development of the second park in the downtown plan to actually be built, Belo Garden, providing funding as part of a partnership with the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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