Apologies for the Unfair Park downtime this morning; it's what you get when you bury the servers for a Dallas-based blog beneath a bank building in Phoenix, I guess. Perhaps the time off this a.m. was for the best, though. Gives me a little while to cool off, take a deep breath and stop shouting random curse words. As my former colleague Eric Celeste points out concerning this Dallas Blog posting, some us around here who used to work in the old Dallas Observer building, the former KLIF building at Commerce Street and Central Expressway, are looking at the plans for the Main Street Garden and wondering, for the 1,489th time, precisely why we moved out of downtown into a sterile Uptown high-rise.
Two weeks ago tonight, I had a long talk with a downtown-developing friend who said the Main Street Garden was moments away from taking shape; this 23-page council presentation from yesterday makes clear just what shape it'll take. Cafes and kiosks, 12-foot-tall fountains and spacious dog runs, "toddler lots" (we got our kid from a new toddler lot, by the way) and 18-foot-tall shade structures beneath which parkgoers can eat, drink and hang -- yup, looks like a wasteland all right. Whew, that was a close one. We got out at just the right time.
In truth, of course, we all saw this coming. A few years back, I planned on writing a piece about the death of downtown when a few developers, including Larry Hamilton, gave me a tour of old properties getting their makeovers, among them Hamilton's DP&L Flats project that was then little more than a hollowed-out construction site. It took but four hours to convert me to their way of thinking: Downtown was nothing but promise and potential, and if they naysayers insisted on packing their bags, well, that just left more room for the visionaries with deep pockets and nothing but time to wait out the calm before the storm.
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And while it'd be right up the Observer's alley to tell you, yeah, that Main Street Garden ain't gonna be no big thing, I'd be lying. Because, see, the people behind this thing -- who've been plotting and planning for years behind the scenes, using other big cities' urban parks as their guides whilst all the a'ginners were moving Uptown and away -- will not let it be anything less than what it promises on paper. (And, no, these are not the same people behind the Trinity River project, so, please, stop.) Sooner than later they will raze those old buildings, many of which were being prepped for demolition long before we left downtown, and plant a park in their place, if only to show us a can't-do city can do something right with the right amount of money and muscle. Supposed to start demolishing those buildings, what, May 30? One need look only at the past and present projects of the park's New York-based designer -- Thomas Balsley Associates -- to see what lies ahead for downtown.
So, see you there, right? Only, can you, like, give me a lift? I woulda walked, but, ya know. --Robert Wilonsky