The neighbors knew something was up yesterday: Workers were in and out of the building, removing whatever they could salvage. But no way did they ever imagine that come 8 a.m. today that 2505 Turtle Creek Boulevard would be only an address -- a patch of land atop which now sits a pile of twisted metal and busted bricks that used to be an office building designed by the late Harwood K. Smith. "It's a crime scene," said one devastated neighbor this morning, surveying the wreckage cordoned off by yellow "Caution" tape. "The neighbors are really upset," says Daron Tapscott, chair of the Landmark Commission's Designation Committee.
Earlier this month, the City Plan Commission voted to deny Canadian developer GGH Development's request to build on that spot a 21-story luxury hotel, complete with residential suites, a spa and a restaurant; the developer will plead its case to the city council on
WednesdayMay 14. And no longer will the council be able to scrap a proposed hotel in favor of preserving a historic Dallas office building, whose architect became the namesake for the architecture and engineering firm responsible for such mammoth, megamillions venues as the American Airlines Center and the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington. Because on the very morning the building was cited in The Dallas Morning News as one "of the best examples of midcentury-modern architecture in the Dallas area," Smith's building is no more.
Tapscott tells Unfair Park the permit for demolition was issued in the first week of April -- the day after the CPC denied the rezoning application, citing, among its reasons, the HKS connection. "They can still build on the site," Tapscott says, "but they still have the dry overlay," meaning they can't sell alcohol in the proposed hotel's restaurant or bar. "And it's still a residential neighborhood."
Council member Angela Hunt couldn't be reached for comment, nor could the developers. Alas, there will be plenty more tomorrow -- including some 30 photos we took on site just after demolition crews fled the scene around 10:30 a.m., after they heard that no one had drained the air conditioning unit of Freon. And we'll continue trying to reach Karl Crawley, who's repping the developers on behalf of Dallas-based Masterplan Consultants, who last week didn't give Unfair Park any indication that GGH would be tearing down the building before its council appeal on Wednesday.
The building was fair game because the Landmark Commission hadn't yet begun designation proceedings that would have protected 2505 Turtle Creek Boulevard, even temporarily. Tapscott says it had been discussed, but no one had begun the process of designating it as a Dallas historic landmark. And now, it's too late: A developer did the deciding for the city, and now one more piece of history is history. --Robert Wilonsky
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