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The Hard Rock Now Rubble, Brett Landes Debuts His New Development

A preview of what Brett Landes has planned in the former Hard Rock location on McKinney Avenue
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Developer Brett Landes of the Landes Group has unveiled his development plans for the 0.85-acre plot at Routh and McKinney that was home to the Hard Rock Café and, before that, the McKinney Avenue Baptist Church. Up from the ashes will rise McKinney Avenue Tower, a 16-story, 141-unit “gen-y” apartment complex with a four-story, egg-shaped abutment made entirely of glass filling the wedged Routh Street-McKinney Avenue corner.

Housed within the egg will be a leasing office, a fitness center and a rooftop pool with submersed stool seating so water revelers can ogle the street life below. Add to that a huge computerized LED display screen that will feature digitized renderings of works from local artists -- a little Victory in the vicarage if you will. This $40-million Hard Rock replacement should open sometime in 2009.

Of course, Landes took lots of flak for his sacrilege, with this blog branding the uber-developer a liar after council member Angela Hunt says he promised he would preserve the blessed structure. Landes countered that preservation was a non-starter. Like that Vietnamese Village that required destruction to receive salvation, the church would have had to be destroyed to be saved: Hard Rock stucco couldn’t be removed without destroying the Baptist brick.

Besides, Landes says, he sunk a quarter of a million dollars into the building to keep it on life support while he conducted a nationwide search for a tenant. He found no takers. In the end, it was a dysfunctional building with numerous hazards, says Landes -- a contention not inconsistent with some of the rumors circulating in the restaurant industry over the last few years.

“There’d be leaks and problems and just rats and mold and oh my gosh, it was unbelievable,” Landes insists. Yet through all of the bruising, Landes may have the last wink. He’s opening a bar not far from the Tower with Dallas bar czar Frankie Carabetta (Tribeca). He plans to call it the Liar’s Den. --Mark Stuertz

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