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Thread: DTD: 211 N. Ervay

  1. #1
    paulsukhudallasmetropolis
    Guest

    D-Down DTD: 211 N. Ervay


    'Worst building' eyed for park

    Razing liquor-store property called 'poster child for eminent domain' would solve big Dallas problem, critics say
    Christine Perez Staff Writer

    DOWNTOWN DALLAS — Smack dab in the middle of three of the swankiest office towers in the Central Business District here — Thanksgiving Tower, 1700 Pacific and Bank One Center — sits an old, nearly abandoned office building with a liquor store on the ground level.

    For years, owners of the surrounding skyscrapers have complained about the building at the intersection of Elm and Ervay streets, saying the store there attracts vagrants and drives down property values. "It is a blight on the city and it needs to go," said Don Dowell, leasing manager of Bank One Center for Trizec Properties Inc.

    The landlords, separately and as a group, repeatedly have approached the property's owner, Harold Collum, about buying the building, but the parties have never been able to come to terms on price, Dowell said. The Dallas Central Appraisal District puts the property's value at $451,140; Collum has been asking for $3.75 million.

    Now, though, the landlords have a new ally in Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, who has dubbed 211 N. Ervay "the poster child for eminent domain."

    "All the homeless come in and congregate at this place," she said. "It drives all the folks in downtown Dallas crazy. I've talked to the downtown property- management organizations, and they say this is the worst building."

    Miller wants to demolish the 19-story, 190,000-square-foot structure and replace it with a city park. Acquiring it through eminent domain, she said, would "solve a serious downtown problem."

    "It buys a building at market value, whatever market value the commissioners decide should be paid for the building," she said. "It then becomes a public-purpose property, a city-owned park with a long-term ground lease, with the surrounding property owners maintaining it as a public space."

    The demolition of 211 N. Ervay was not part of the interim report presented to the Dallas City Council Dec. 2 by the Inside the Loop Committee, a group Miller appointed to come up with a physical plan and revitalization strategy for downtown. Those plans call for a 4.7-acre park called Commerce Garden to straddle Commerce Street between Harwood and St. Paul streets, along with a 61-acre "Emerald Bracelet," or greenbelt area, immediately inside the freeway loop.

    Dowell said a city park is the only viable alternative for 211 N. Ervay, which hasn't had an office tenant in more than a decade.

    "There is no parking associated with the building, and no possibility of having any parking because it is landlocked," he said. "With no parking, it won't work as office or residential, and it's too narrow to work as a parking garage because the turning radiuses are too tight."

    'Inundated with calls'
    Built in 1958, the turquoise-and-white 211 N. Ervay once was home to Northwestern National Life Insurance Co. of Minneapolis. It stood alone at the northwest corner of Elm and Ervay streets until the 50-story, 1.4 million-square-foot Thanksgiving Tower went up in 1982.

    At that time, 211 N. Ervay was owned by an investment group led by Wayne Swearingen, former chairman of Swearingen Co. He said the developer behind Thanksgiving Tower expressed an interest in buying his property to build a larger parking garage, but didn't want to pay his asking price. Representatives from Thanksgiving Square also called on Swearingen to tear the building down.

    "They said it was casting shadows on their flowers," he said.

    Northwestern National Life bought the property in 1986, selling it six years later to longtime Dallas real estate investor Collum, who bought it on behalf of his children. He has not been able to find an office tenant since acquiring it, but the 10,000-square-foot ground floor is fully leased to the liquor store, Haste Beverage, and three other small retailers.

    Collum acknowledged ongoing problems with vagrants taking up occupancy in the building and hanging out in front of the liquor store. He hasn't talked with Miller yet, he said, but added that the idea of a park "makes a lot of sense."

    Ground-lease issues have made it difficult to find a buyer in the past, Collum said. He acquired full use of the 50-foot-by-200-foot lot about eight months ago, and has been aggressively marketing 211 N. Ervay since. He said he is eager to sell the building but wants to get fair market value. Last week, he slashed the sales price from $3.75 million to $2.75 million, or about $14.50 per square foot.

    George Roddy, owner of Dallas-based Roddy Investment Services, said the true value probably lies somewhere between Collum's revised asking price and the Central Appraisal District's assessment of $451,140.

    "Over the past several years, buildings in the same area and of the same vintage have sold in the $14- to $15-per-square-foot range, with some going for as high as $22 to $35 per square foot," he said. "Looking at the purchasers, though, most were users. The problem is, with an overall vacancy of 72% and a Class C vacancy of 41%, the market cannot support this property coming back online as an office building.

    "Looking at it strictly from a land-value perspective," Roddy added, "confirmed sales in the area range from $35 to $70 per square foot, which would put the value (of the 10,000-square-foot lot) at under $1 million."

    Collum said an e-mail blast that recently went to 50,000 potential investors had generated a good response, with most potential buyers looking at converting the office tower to apartments or condominiums.

    "I have been inundated with calls and have been doing a lot of showings," he said.

    Thanksgiving Tower, which sits immediately west of 211 N. Ervay, would reap the most benefits from the project's redevelopment. A partnership between New York-based Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Dallas-based Macfarlan Real Estate Services paid $95 million for Thanksgiving Tower in 1999.

    Keith Waggoner, chief operating officer at Macfarlan, said his company will support any plan that turns 211 N. Ervay into a productive piece of real estate — including helping to subsidize a city park.

    "There's no question it would be a bonus for us to have a park next door," he said. "At the same time, putting residences next to Thanksgiving Tower would help make the area more vibrant, too.

    "I think we will see something happen with the property over the next year," he added. "Either Collum will find a buyer or the city will take it. We will cooperate with whoever takes control."

    Contact DBJ writer Christine Perez at cperez@bizjournals.com or (214) 706-7120.



    © 2002 American City Business Journals Inc.


    All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.


  2. #2
    GarrettCarey
    Guest

    Re: 'Worst building' eyed for park


    I read that earlier this morning myself.
    If that is the building i think it is.....i do not see it serving well as a park.....perhaps a small plaza though. However, I would much rather see it converted into apts/condos or even cheap office space. I am sure the parking could be remedied somehow. I know that there are many plaqued properties in DT and I am a huge proponent for parks, plazas, fountains, etc.......however i am not a fan of tearing down every vacant building in the city. To me, DT is not dense enough......and tearing down building after building just makes it worse.

    then again what do i know?

  3. #3
    jsoto
    Guest

    re:


    EXACTLY GARRETT!! RIGHT ON! HOUSING, NO PARK!! I have been interested in that building for years now. I had no idea there was so much controversy with this building. For the city to implement eminent domain here would be outrageous. If I were Mr. Collum I'd be finding myself some damn good real estate lawyers. With Thanksgiving Square just accross the street, it makes no sense to put a park or plaza there. It would be inconsequential and a waste of space. It is such a nice address. Hell, Thanksgiving Square is barely a public space. What makes anyone think a new park would be any different in the hands of the adjacent property owners?! When will people realize that having fewer, more active parks is a better situation than having many dull parks?! I just don't get people sometimes.

    -but I am just a graduate architecture/urban design student who has travelled the world, what do I know?

    p.s.: I apologize for the self-righteous rant, but that article outraged me.

  4. #4
    KelleyUSA
    Guest

    Re: re:


    I couldn't disagree with either one of you more- and I normally always agree with Garrett. I think we need to look at the problems that are associated with this building. It's become nothing more than a place for the homeless to hang out and it houses a liquor store. To me- it seems like an opportunity to improve the area. Yea- I think we can all agree that we prefer redevelopment rather than razing buildings for green space. However, the article stated that developers are not interested in this building because it has NO parking which makes it virtually useless for residential living and for future office space. What developer in their right mind would buy a building that has NO parking. I don't believe there is any availbale land around it to build a garage- and even if there was would a developer take the expense to buy the additional land? I think we need to be realistic and examine what is actually wrong with the building. Heck- we can't even get a developer to take a shot on the Mercantile which I beleive has much more promise.

    If done right- it could be turned into an attractive green space with a signature fountain. If it's just going to be a few patches of grass and some trees- then NO. But- at least people are talking about downtown again- good or bad- people are getting involved- and I think we can all agree that that's a good thing!!!!

  5. #5
    GarrettCarey
    Guest

    Re: re:


    I think this will continue to be an interesting topic.
    I do not want to beat my point of view to death......but I will I guess. I live DT and would like nothing more than to see more greenspace, but I would also like to be able to maintain the density that currently exists. For the record, the liquor store and convenience store that occupy the ground floor of that building are scary and dirty and ugly and extremely unattractive. If that corner cannot be cleaned up, then demolition may be the best answer. I also agree with KellyUSA that the absence of parking makes office/apt redevelopment very very difficult at best. I do hope, however, that something creative can be done to remedy both the parking and the blight. If not, then a plaza with a fountain would be perfect. I just hope that it is accessible to the public (Thanksgiving Square is not) and well maintained. In addition, I'd hate to see the plaza/park become a hangout for the homeless. That would defeat the purpose of the demolition, right?

    Basically, I'd just hate to see the building destroyed because people don't want to use their brains.

  6. #6
    John T Roberts
    Guest

    Re: 'Worst building' eyed for park


    I agree with Garrett. I'm all for rehabilitation of the building, but the parking is an issue. There aren't any available areas around this building to construct parking. One possibility would be to lease parking in an adjacent garage if the building is converted to residential. If an office conversion was made, the owners would have to lease many more spaces for the tenants.

  7. #7
    TamTagon
    Guest

    Re: 'Worst building' eyed for park


    How many other buildings are in line to face the same fate as the 'Worst building?' In addition to eminent domain, does the city have a policy of reviewing structures (and infrastructure) to avoid situations like this? The politics of eminent domain make me suspicious when small parcels of desirable land are in question. I will speculate that the property was seen as a commodity and purchased with no intention of improvement. With such a favorable location but lacking modern amenities (convenient parking), this could have been view as a shrewd investment. The land's value only increases with time and allowing the liquor store patrons street trade to scare the neighbors facilitates action by potential buyers. Pretty smart unless the government usurps the market.

    I should look into it myself, but does the city/county/state have an official position toward the homeless? I chuckle every time I remember the reaction of many of Dallas' homeless during the world cup play-offs in fair park several years ago. The city shooed away all the people living under the highways between downtown and deep ellum only to have these people seek shelter at city hall. Oops. It might make good jetsam for television. If the city found a way to humanely address it's homeless problem, Dallas would be one giant step closer to being the world class city we all desire. The city must be provide an example other cites want to follow. Amen.




  8. #8
    jsoto3
    Guest

    agreed


    thank you TamTagon! that is about the most intelligent and humane thing I have ever read here.

    also, . . . .

    i think it is time for people to finally recognize that there is now a new potential market, albeit very limited, for this building: people who choose to live differently and not rely on their cars. this site is one of the few places in the city, thanks to dart rail, where one could possibly live happily and have access to all your needs, depending on your lifestyle. i am thinking specifically of young, urbane people (not yuppies), who do not have much money but would like to live downtown, in a housing type that is not yet available downtown. even more specifically, i am thinking of artists/architects/designers/etc., people who prefer to live, and possibly work, in a funky, cheap space. given the value (low) of this building, i think this is a perfect opportunity to serve this all-to-neglected demographic. this is not to say that these people would not need or own their own cars, just that these are the type of people who are likely/willing to drive much less than most people do and would be willing to lease space elsewhere to park. just a thought . . . .

  9. #9
    aceplace
    Guest

    going carless


    Good point, jsoto3.

    I lived in San Francisco for years in a little residential hotel about the size of that building... no garage of course, and if I needed a car for the weekend I could rent one.

    Living downtown, you can use DART to get just about anything you want. For groceries, there are several markets next to a DART station...

    But in dallas, people are normally going to have a car, what about them? If the economics were right, it might be cheaper to rent in a garageless building and park your car next to a DART station... this might be a whole new industry, albeit with a limited market... currently, the buildings that are being rehabbed will have garage space already there, in most cases. But for future buildings, it may be feasible to have community garage space in order to enable builders to put up garageless (i.e. cheaper) residential buildings.

  10. #10
    hamiltonpl
    Guest

    affordable housing


    Instead of tearing it down to keep the homeless away, the city of Dallas should turn it into a homeless shelter and simply "hide" the homeless inside.

    (and keeping the liqour store at the bottom would make it the most popular homeless shelter in the country) <img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/pimp.gif ALT=":hat">

  11. #11
    GarrettCarey
    Guest

    The Building


    Okay, so I walked through the city today and made a point to see the 211 North Ervay Building. I have to say that it isn't the most beautiful building I have seen, but I still stand firm on my stance that something useful can be done with this site, other than tearing it down.

    It has no parking and remains a hot spot for homeless, both of which remain a <strong><em>problem</em></strong>.

    But it has several nice qualities/amenities that to me give it promise. This are things that I see:

    1. Location - It is close to Main Street, Neiman Marcus, Restaurants, DART (train/bus), Thanksgiving Square, Thanksgiving Tower, 1700 Pacific , Bank One Center, Republic Center, and the Arts District. The Republic Center is renovating it's ground floor and adding retail of some kind as well as a credit union. All of these lead into the next....

    2. Traffic - This intersection generates a lot of pedestrian and automobile traffic that can be used to the building's advantage. Creativity is key here.

    3. Opportunity - 1 & 2 lead into 3. The building's proximity and traffic make this a strong opportunity. One thing that comes to mind is office space. I am sure there are many startup companies that cannot afford or are unwilling to pay the current price for office space. If converted into office space, it could be leased at below market rates or for free until the company gets off the ground. Basically, it would be an incubator to attract more companies downtown. Obviously, lots of details need to be hammered out there. Or it could be converted into cheap apartments......or better yet corporate apartments. What about a boutique hotel? All of these ideas would certainly help bring more people into the city, improving the revitalization efforts. Again, creativity is key here.

    These are just my thoughts. I hate to see buildings demolished. What do think? Am I out of my mind?

  12. #12
    TamTagon
    Guest

    Re: The Building


    I haven't seen the building in years, and if someone wanted to post a pic of it, I would appreciate it. My memory of the space is that a park would be odd....

    I also think the only time demolition should be an option is when the building is falling on top of people. What about a daycare center (would there be a conflict with the liquor store?)? or a gym? dry cleaner? Anything that can be done downtown before and/or after work has a good chance of success w/commuters in offices within walking distance. Document storage for neighboring businesses?

  13. #13
    jsoto3
    Guest

    211 n ervay pic


    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/211 ervay.jpg" />

  14. #14
    GarrettCarey
    Guest

    Re: 211 n ervay pic


    nice pic jsoto, thank you.

  15. #15
    bloodandpopcorn
    Guest

    Re: 211 n ervay pic


    Now... this is pretty radical, and hasn't really been tried in America, I don't think (there's a small version at preston & northwest highway, tho)... but this site seems ideal for a "vertical mall". What this means, basically, is that each floor is a different store. You could split it up into two or thre stores per floor, but in Japan, for instance, you'll have some big ocmapny owning it and having different 'specialties' on each floor. It's baiscally like having a different store on each floor, but all in the shape of an old-style department store (cuz its all the same people). Here, it could acutally be different stores, and maybe have a movie theater at hte top or smoething. It'd take alot of work and renovations, but this spot seems fairly ideal.

    BTW - if you want to see a really cool film, go see Equilibrium with Christian Bale. It's got some great acting (from Bale), a really cool plot, some great lines, very interesting production design, and is basically a really well done version of that "epic masterpiece" all of hte b-movies aspire to be. It's DEFINTLY a good view. The trailer is available on the quicktime website.

  16. #16
    GarrettCarey
    Guest

    Re: 211 n ervay pic


    Interesting....a vertical mall. I like that idea. Do you think any retailers here would buy that idea? I see that the only way any retailer would even consider that idea would be if both the liquor store and the convenience store were removed and the building was significantly improved. Either way, that is a great idea and certainly creative!

  17. #17
    KelleyUSA
    Guest

    Re: 211 n ervay pic


    That is a great idea- but then we get back to the issue of NO parking. It would be tough to attract retailers to a place that has no parking...

  18. #18
    GarrettCarey
    Guest

    Re: 211 n ervay pic


    <strong><em>damned cars!</em></strong>

  19. #19
    bloodandpopcorn
    Guest

    Re: 211 n ervay pic


    If it were done as retail in that way, though, patrons could park in the various parking lots/garages in the area, or simply ride DART. That would have a possibility of require zero on site parking.

  20. #20
    jsoto3
    Guest

    good idea


    a fellow grad architecture student here at Tech just completed his master's thesis, a proposal for a vertical mall on this exact site, only in a newly constructed building. very interesting. again, i don't think parking is an issue. as i understand it, the main street redevleopment efforts include constructing a few common parking structures in the immediate area. parking does not need to be on site, people can walk a few hundred yards every now and then. hell, in many cases, walking distances from parking on main street would be shorter than those at suburban malls.

  21. #21
    bloodandpopcorn
    Guest

    Re: good idea


    Will you make sure to have your friend submit that plan to someone in power? It would be so great for Dallas to make a revolutionary step forward in retail in the US again... and bring shoppers back to downtown!

    Can you describe at all what they were planning? Height, stores per floor, etc.?

  22. #22
    jsoto3
    Guest

    Re: good idea


    the following is the abstract from his thesis presentation:

    thesis statement:
    In a world characterized by perpetual change via technology, architecture is left behind. However, by implementing the very thing that causes its demise, architecture can acheive continually fluxuating design solutions that will result in long-standing cultural relevance.

    design prinicples:
    1. Heighten the users' sensory perception of both their physical and virtual environment; "We are living in a virtual world and I am a material girl," and vice-versa!
    2. Find solutions that exist in the grey area between the real environment and the virtual environment.
    3. Create spaces that are highly flexible and provide support for massive installation on both their 'macro' and 'micro' levels [(infrastructure: structural and electronic)].
    4. Formally express the invisible flow of information in a sensational manner that is both abstract and literal; feel the flow!

    design response:
    The design response has three main levels: the building form, the building skin/technology, and the void. The building form was extrapolated from an axonometric diagram of the banding heights, building heights, and site intersection angles of the surrounding urban environment. The building skin is a technologically advanvced cladding system that works on two levels. The first level is the hologram projection zone and the second is the DMD [(?)] operable window system. The rest of the building is infused with elements that illustrate and make available the latest and greatest in technological advances. The voids are a response to the facility type; an upscale retail shopping facility. The voids have the substructure that is needed for a large scale installation project on both the phyical and virtual levels.

    vacancy:
    Over the past few years consumerism has become the language of our society. We speak in a globalized, fad and image-based dialect. Our discourse is characterized by the commercial and the advertisement. Who we are as individuals is projected more by the jeans we wear than what we say or do. Because of this we are living in a guilded age. An age where the surface is shiny and beautiful, but below is a vacancy where the substance of culture used to be. The building, as it is presented here, is both a temple to, and a satire of consumerism. On the one hand, the building provides the latest and greatest of technological advances. Advances such as the hologram allow the building to keep pace with the rapidly changing climate of popular culture. The interior voids allow a store to change their image as often as they would like. This building is truly capable of offering a new experience upon every visit. However, the elaborate skin is nothing more than the gleaming cover on an otherwise empty building.

    ***end abstract***

    as you can see in the pic below, the project is somewhere in the ten storey range. landscaped roof terraces are interspersed through the structure on various levels. i apologize for the crude pic, it is the only image i can get to you right now, but it gives you a rough idea of what it could be like. it is only a schematic design model. this pic represents the ervay street elevation with elm on the left and pacific on the right. the final product is somewhat different and much more detailed and interesting. the gallery where it is on display is locked currently, but i will post new, better pics if i get a chance to get into the gallery. btw, he provides one level of parking in the basement.


    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/brave new mall schematic.jpg" />

  23. #23
    paulsukhudallasmetropolis
    Guest

    Re: good idea


    Toronto has a downtown mall similar to the Galleria complete with attached office towers and a pay per hour parking garage. Parking is not an issue because the mall has a subway station.

    www.torontoeatoncentre.com/



    There is a mall in New York that has six stories of shopping with a fast food court on the seventh floor. The center is a giant atrium. There is a tunnel leading to the subway a block away. The flagship Macy's is next door. There is no parking at all.

    www.manhattanmallny.com/



  24. #24
    jsoto3
    Guest

    Re: good idea


    i have been to eaton centre in toronto a few times. i believe it also has a residential tower attatched. nice urban mall, though a bit outdated aesthetically:

    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/eaton1.jpg" />
    everything on the left side of the street, including the tower, is eaton centre mall.

    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/eaton2.jpg" />
    the mall is comprised of existing and new buildings connected by inserted and attatched atrium spaces.

    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/eaton3.jpg" />
    just above and to the right of the tree you can see the shadow of one of the towers falling onto the atrium. the three floors above and to the right of the tree are parking.


    santiago calatrava, architect of the new woodall rogers extension bridge, employed this same technique of connecting new and existing buildings with atrium spaces, though much more eligantly than eaton centre, at an office complex in downtown toronto. existing office tower lobbies were activated with newly inserted retail spaces. this complex is connected to other building complexes throughout downtown toronto via an underground pedestrian tunnel system, much like dallas's, though much more active (and necessary; harsh canadian winters). i can see downtown dallas doing something along these lines (btw, these were once alley ways):

    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/calatrava1.jpg" />

    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/calatrava2.jpg" />

    <img border=0 src="http://www.jsoto3.com/images/calatrava3.jpg" />
    notice the glass block on the floor to admit light into the subterranean levels.


    toronto's fellow great canadian city, montreal (where i have spent much time), has block upon block of urban malls similar to eaton center, except even better. in montreal these malls are not only connected by the underground pedestrian tunnel system, they are also connected by subway. unlike american malls, these face both inside and outside; they have much more street-side retail than eaton centre in toronto.

    sorry for the excessive length of this post.

  25. #25
    GarrettCarey
    Guest

    Re: good idea


    okay....those took a long time to load.....but were certainly worth it. Those are outstanding pieces of work. To see something like that in Dallas would be phenomenal

  26. #26
    TamTagon
    Guest

    Re: good idea


    Enclosing those Toronto alleys keeps the cold out and is very dramatic to see. Now, that's what I'm talking about. I would love to see all the DART stations, especially in downtown, receive similar protection from the Texas heat. The structures can address the lack of public art and keep sweat stains off my work clothes.

    With an entrance/exit facing Thanksgiving Square, a place like Eatzi's would be a bit hit in the Worst building. I'm thinking the only kind of retail operation that would succeed in the Worst building must sell items easily carried several blocks or on a train. Book store, Deli/grocery with delivery service, movies, art gallery, drug store.

  27. #27
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Does anyone know the status of this building? I mean, is city council going to vote on demolition or are they waiting for a developer?
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  28. #28
    Supertall Skyscraper Member
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    There has been so much talk recently about a downtown park and the need for quality green space. This is an article I read in the Houston Business Journal about some of the vision they have for a park:

    HOUSTON-The Midtown Management District has its eyes on an undeveloped tract--the size of four contiguous city blocks--for a $65-million public park with a three- or four-level underground parking garage. Part of the "Super Block," as it's being called, is owned by the Midtown Redevelopment Authority and part by Houston-based Camden Property Trust.
    The plan under discussion is to form a separate entity of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority to act as landowner and issue bonds to cover development costs for the property at McGowen and Main streets. Word is that the park, if built, would be called McGowen Green. Dan Barnum, the Midtown Management District urban planning committee chairman, tells GlobeSt.com that it is possible the new entity will be formed by midyear.

    The land runs along the light rail lines, which are now under construction. It is hoped part of the parking garage could be completed by January 2004, with the balance of the garage and the park delivering shortly thereafter.

    Barnum, principal architect with Hal, Barnum, Lucchesi Architects of Houston, says the $65-million price tag would cover a four-level parking garage and "intensely designed" upscale public park with a pond. A three-level parking garage would lower the cost to $54 million, he says. The mission is to create a high-end destination location that eventually would be surrounded by office, retail and hotel development.

    Dan Searight, associate partner at Morris Architects and member of the Midtown Management District's urban planning committee, says it is "the seminal project for creating further higher density development in Midtown." His firm already is working with a local landowner who is interested in developing a mixed-use project in the area.

    The McGowen Green project is considered key to solving transportation issues because it would provide off-load parking for nearby commercial developments as well as serve as a park-and-ride for the light rail line. Barnum says there are some political and organizational hurdles that have to be cleared, but efforts clearly are underway to make the project official.

  29. #29
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    I read that article too KellyUSA. I think I may send that article to the City Council....unless of course someone beats me to it. The project sounds pretty cool.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  30. #30
    is gone.
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    But the current building is quite large, and not only that, within about three minutes walking to Thanksgiving! What do they think this is, anyway, Allen? The scariest thing that planners are now pushing is supersaturation of the parks. It's no good.

  31. #31
    Supertall Skyscraper Member TexasStar's Avatar
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    I work across the street from 211 Ervay at 1700 Pacific. And while I hate the idea of tearing down a perfectly good building, perhaps there comes a time to be realistic. It has sat vacant for decades. If we are looking at several more decades before anything productive is done with it, we are probably much better off with green space.

    One of the things that distresses me most about downtown, aside from the lack of pedestrian activity, are the dark, deserted buildings that seem so forlorn and hopeless. The Mercantile, the Fidelity Union tower, the Grand Hotel, and 211 Ervay are like sores. We can all come up with what we think are great ideas about uses for them. But if the people with the cash don't agree they are viable, then as painful as it may be, the city is better off without them.

    Also, I fail to see the connection between homeless people and the problems with revitalizing downtown Dallas. I know several cities with vibrant downtowns and more homeless people than you will ever see in Big D. We need street-level retail, night clubs, music, art galleries, and yes, bums asking for change. It all goes to make a city.

  32. #32
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    Hey! Don't talk about the Merc like that!

    Anyway, you're right. And I think that although it won't happen, it would be kind of cool to have beat up streets. It gives character...and when you brick it up, you Disneylandify it! It's horrible, like what they did to Times Square. We just have to be cautious.

  33. #33
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    I slightly disagree with you TexasStar. Over here in Fort Worth, some of our best restoration successes were buildings that had been vacant for an extremely long period of time. If demolition of the buildings had been allowed, then there would be all of these surface parking lots that would still exist today. I personally think it is better to keep a building closed and vacant until redevelopment occurs than to demolish it because it is vacant and have a surface parking lot present for many years. If you tear down too many buildings in a downtown area, it begins to look like a smile with a lot of teeth missing!

    By the way, the Mercantile is too historic to demolish.
    http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com - Architecture in Downtown Fort Worth
    http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/forum - The Fort Worth Forum
    http://www.dallasarchitecture.info - Architecture in Downtown Dallas

  34. #34
    Supertall Skyscraper Member TexasStar's Avatar
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    I see your point, John. Guess I'm too impatient. Fixing downtown's problems won't happen overnight.

    I was born and raised in New Orleans where when there is a controversy about tearing down a building, it's usually one that was built in the mid-1800's or so. It appears that here in my new hometown I'll have to get used to a new definition of what qualifies as "historic".

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    Generally in Texas, a building can begin to be eligible for historic designation if it is older than 50 years in age. That is not the only criteria, but it is the one that relates to time. Buildings that were constructed in the 1950's will meet the age requirement in this decade.
    http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com - Architecture in Downtown Fort Worth
    http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/forum - The Fort Worth Forum
    http://www.dallasarchitecture.info - Architecture in Downtown Dallas

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    And it's all because we can't leave something standing too long, not even suburbia. It gets worse each time, too.

  37. #37
    Moderator jsoto3's Avatar
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    211 ervay

    i thought this thread was about 211 ervay (on thanksgiving square), not the mercantile complex

  38. #38
    Smile... :) mikedsjr's Avatar
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    John T Roberts,

    Great points. And this certainly is the best solutions. The best solutions are sometimes the hardest to want to do.

  39. #39
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    This thread has been dead lately. I am curious if anyone has read/heard anything about the future of this complex? On a related note, check this thread to read a response I got from Karl Stundins (a Dallas Area Redevelopment Manager)
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  40. #40
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    11:10 PM CST on Thursday, February 5, 2004
    By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News
    Big Blue's days may be numbered.

    Not the computer company – the building.

    For almost 50 years, the 211 N. Ervay Building has served as a bright – and to some critics unwelcome – exclamation point on downtown Dallas' skyline.

    Now city officials are pondering a proposal to knock down the vacant office building to make way for a park. The mayor mentioned it again at a luncheon this week.

    Towering over the intersections of Main and Elm streets, the 18-story monolith of azure and aquamarine is a relic of brighter days.

    Back in the 1950s, when architects started experimenting with color palettes, to be blue was to be new.

    So although most of today's best-dressed skyscrapers wear banker's gray, boring brown or black-and-white tuxedo exteriors, the modern buildings of the '50s and '60s were as bright as beachwear.

    Architects and builders were trying to brighten up dreary American cities in the postwar boom.

    Those innovative metal and ceramic panels put some color back in the cheeks of tired skylines all over the nation.

    In Dallas, the biggest new skyscraper project of that era – the Southland Center complex – was clad in 42 stories of blue-and-gray mosaic tiles made in Italy.

    The Statler-Hilton Hotel Insurance Plaza and the Meadows Building on Greenville Avenue also add a little pizzazz into the Dallas landscape with their ocean blue-green, sky blue and bright teal exteriors.

    Some office buildings of the day even had bright yellow and orange exterior panels.

    But America's and Dallas' love affair with candy-colored architecture proved short-lived.

    So by the early 1970s, blue stood for old, not bold, and brightly colored buildings were stigmatized.

    One Addison developer who built a blue office building in the early 1980s was sued by nearby building owners who claimed his indigo project hurt property values. He was forced to paint it snore beige.

    The Southland Center, Main Street's Praetorian Building, 2301 N. Akard St. and others were given facelifts to cloak their colorful pasts.

    Further remodeling and the wrecking ball will no doubt erase other examples of '50s chic.

    And then maybe someday, someone will long for the days when some of our buildings were blue.

    Or maybe not.

  41. #41
    Moderator jsoto3's Avatar
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    I just don't get why some people think this building has to come down. While I actually like the skin of this building, I can appreciate that others do not. However, bad skin is no reason to tear down a building, especially for a measly sliver of 'park/plaza,' particularly when there is a beautiful park (Thanksgiving Square) across the street! I understand that it wouldn't be an easy building to redevelop given the tight site (no room for parking) and need for asbestos removal. But just like the Grand Hotel, the city needs to have patience and wait for a developer with vision and balls to redevelop the building appropriately. I would only agree to demolition if something bigger and better was proposed. But the developer would somehow have to be forced to guaranty such a new development, with serious consequences for failure to build something worthy of the site.

  42. #42
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    I could not agree more jsoto.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  43. #43
    Supertall Skyscraper Member TexasStar's Avatar
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    I also agree. Demolition should only occur in order to build something better. I don't think a tiny park qualifies.

    It's time Dallas started hanging onto its history and not be so quick to tear down anythng more than a few years old.

  44. #44
    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    Agree with everyone else! That particular area of DT is already saturated with public space...

    The cost of the land, the cost of demolition... the meagre plot of land they will gain... also the loss of a couple of viable businesses...

    I smell an ulterior motive.

  45. #45
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Personally, I like the look of the building. Even if I didn't like it, I would want it revived to keep the architectural exapmle. It's funny how that style was popluar for such a short time, only to be upstaged by a similar "look-at-me" presentation in buildings with decorative applique (argon piping, corner flood light). During the 90's, everything under the sun was branded with a corporate logo; despite the vulgar commericalism, this trend has added visually aesthetic nighttime visuals.

    Maybe some snappy developer will recognize "Those innovative metal and ceramic panels put some color back in the cheeks of tired skylines all over the nation" and come up with a way to give the whole building an glow at night.

    In addition to the environmental clean-up, I recall the absence of parking is a major hurdle for this building. THis building could be an excellent project for the revamped collection of business/municipal groups charged with attracting people (living and working) in the CBD. Determine the cost of cleaning up the building, identify potential occupancy channels and work up a benchmark project from one of the most difficult CBD buildings to market.

    Obvious uses for the building include those operations whose customers are within walking distance. Maybe downtown workers would like a daycare/preschool around the corner. Often, I've thought this building would be a great hostel. Perhaps a document storage facility would work.

    On the other had, I've always thought Thanksgiving Square would be nicer with more leisure space. More trees and fountains and such. But I think the whole "downtown" experience would veto the demolition of a tall building. One of my favorite aspects of T'giving Square is looking at all the different kinds of buildings which comprise the walls of the park. I would rather see demolition costs put toward surface parking lot modification (underground parking structures with a park on ground level??). It does seem that most of the surface lots are perfect place holders for future buildings, so detailed attention to the distance between the pocket parks is is essential.

  46. #46
    Moderator jsoto3's Avatar
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    I don't think there would ever be enough hostelers visiting Dallas to fill the entire building, but it is a fantastic location and building for a hostel!

  47. #47
    LH Copycat Columbus Civil's Avatar
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    psukhu, I'm glad you decided to shorten your original name.

  48. #48
    Sea™ CTroyMathis's Avatar
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    List of endangered buildings angers city, school officials
    12:38 AM CST on Saturday, February 21, 2004
    By DAVID FLICK / The Dallas Morning News
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...ered.ec83.html

    A historical-preservation group issued its first list of Dallas' most endangered structures Friday – including a downtown building that Mayor Laura Miller has complained is not endangered enough.

    The 1957 turquoise building at 211 N. Ervay St. was included on the list by Preservation Dallas as an example of the vanishing "cool blue" architecture of the 1950s. The organization said the structure was a "contributing element in the Downtown Dallas Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places."

    City officials, meanwhile, have been urging other downtown property owners to purchase the abandoned office building and tear it down to make room for a small park.

    Preservation Dallas acknowledged that "some Dallas residents believe it is not the most glamorous building in the central business district."

    Ms. Miller is clearly among those residents.

    "That building is the bane of everyone's existence downtown and needs to be taken down as soon as possible to create a lovely park next to Thanks-Giving Square," she said Friday.

    At a speech to the Central Dallas Association this month, she singled out elimination of the structure as the essential next step in the revitalization of downtown. She urged the owners to lower their asking price so those plans could move forward.

    Larry Fonts, the association's executive director, said owners of nearby properties were strongly in favor of destroying what they see as a neighborhood eyesore.

    He said the new park – one of 18 proposed in the city's downtown parks master plan – would contribute far more toward revitalization of the center city.

    Mr. Frost said he could appreciate what Preservation Dallas officials were trying to do, "but I think it strains credulity to consider this building either historic or significant," Mr. Fonts said.

    But W. Dwayne Jones, executive director of Preservation Dallas, said, "Our feeling is that, even though it's not the most attractive building, we would prefer to see it fixed up and preserved.

    "We don't understand why they are tearing down existing buildings for a park when there are so many empty lots downtown."

    Council member Veletta Forsythe Lill, who has been a strong advocate of preservation, defended the building's inclusion on the list. She argued that many people thought examples of 1950s buildings were becoming increasingly rare downtown.

    "I think it's important that that building be on that list, if only because we need the discussion," she said.

    When pressed, however, she indicated personal qualms about saving the structure.

    "Let me put it this way," she said, "there are buildings I would stand in front of a bulldozer to preserve. This isn't one of them."

    Mr. Jones said the purpose of the endangered list was to call attention to the plight of some historic properties in Dallas and to serve as a road map to coordinate the organization's efforts.

    "We're not trying to create controversy," he said.

    ...

  49. #49
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Mr. Frost said he could appreciate what Preservation Dallas officials were trying to do, "but I think it strains credulity to consider this building either historic or significant," Mr. Fonts said.
    What would Hello Kitty do?

    The historic significance of this building is its appearance. It was popular for a couple years, and that doesnt mean too much, right now. I'd like to consider it a relic worth saving, but the building's future seems dependent on the owner's financial stability and tenacity. Restoration of buildings older than this one - Davis, Mercantile - is currently popular.

    I say, save the look.

  50. #50
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    I met with the owner of this building last year. I think he was asking 2 million for it. He is looking to sell it and give the money to his kids.

    Dallas CAD values it at $600k:

    http://www.dallascad.org/AcctDetailC...00100849000000

    The cost to make it livable is probably very high.

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