Belo Garden Should Open in February 2012. But a Couple of Big Ifs Stand in the Way.

Speaking of the council's economic development committee ...

This morning the council will be brought up to speed about efforts to transform the 1.5 acre parking lot bound by Main Street, S. Griffin Boulevard and Commerce Street into Belo Garden -- one of the three green spaces included in the Dallas Downtown Parks Master Plan. As we mentioned back in September, it should have been finished earlier this year, but lead-contaminated soil on the site has delayed groundbreaking on the project, which, at present, is guesstimated to cost $13.5 million once you factor in land acquisition, design, construction and soil remediation.

Belo Corp. and the Belo Foundation are kicking in $5.5 for the design and construction; Robert and Maureen Decherd, another $1 million for major repairs and capital improvements as necessary after the park opens. Which leaves the city to cover the rest. Later this month, the city should find out how much environmental remediation will run, and if it comes in at around $2 million, as expected, groundbreaking should commence around May of next year. Only, there's one caveat: If the city can't find the clean-up dough for which it's been seeking grants to offset the cost, City Hall "has the right, until January 31, 2010, to terminate the agreements."

But if the city does come up with the money, then Belo has 18 months after the completion of environmental remediation to open the park -- sometime around February 2012, more or less. If Belo doesn't hit that deadline, the city "may take over construction of the project." And if the whole thing craters, then "the City shall seek and designate a substitute site of comparable size and design for a 'substitute' park."

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