So, Mike Pumphrey from the city's Development Services Department just called back to say he and Mark Doty, conservation district planner with the city, and Preservation Dallas executive director Katherine Seale will indeed tour the Knights of Pythias Temple, likely as early as next week. And one thing they will be looking for is whether Westdale Asset Management has indeed allowed for what's called "demolition by neglect," which occurs when a building's owner fails to preserve a historic landmark in accordance with the U.S. Department of the Interior's guidelines for properly mothballing a building.
"For demolition by neglect, you have to establish a case, which is why we're going through it," Pumphrey says. "As long as it's being mothballed in accordance with those guidelines, the building will be in good shape. This building will not be in good shape, because the worst thing you can do is leave a building vacant. It's better to have an abusive tenant than leave a building vacant. So it could constitute demolition by neglect, and they will need to take steps to make the building weather-tight. Almost always, the person you're dealing with steps in and makes the repairs. If not, we have to forward it to the City Attorney's Office."
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Pumphrey has promised to get back to Unfair Park after he tours the building. And just like that, a rotting building has become a developing story. --Robert Wilonsky