City News Roundup
Downtown Dallas has things going on. There are hot details from the renovation of the Statler Hilton hotel and a debate over parking. These are some of the things that happened in the city this week:
Park it here
Does downtown Dallas need more parking? Is it hard to find a space, and are you forced to walk blocks in unpleasant weather? Or are there plenty of lots, and people in Dallas are spoiled.
It seems like that would be a yes-no matter, but Dallas officials have decided that a study needs to be done to evaluate the parking situation downtown. Buildings that were previously vacant are filling up, the Dallas Farmers Market is getting a makeover, there's the second downtown rail line being planned. A search for consultants is underway, which sounds like a choice gig.
Just like Paris
On October 25, the city council voted to make it easier for restaurants to build sidewalk cafes by lowering the fees and restrictions, including dropping the application fee to $100 (previously $750), and the annual fee to $200 (previously $1,000 to $2,500).
"Businesses in areas like Bishop Arts and downtown Dallas are wanting to promote street life and bring people out and beautify our streets," says Ashley Saunders in the city's planning department. "We had pilot programs where we changed the fee structure for things like awnings, canopies, and landscaping, and got great feedback."
"Businesses were previously paying very high fees, and due to that, not many applications were submitted," she says. "Since [sidewalks] are the right of way, we're bound by the Constitution of Texas and cannot gift right of way, there has to be some kind of consideration for its use. But this is only for the benefit of the city. It's a way to define street character and encourage the street life we’re looking for."
Restoration of the Statler Hilton hotel in downtown Dallas, which has sat empty for 15 years, is underway. Managing partner Frank Zaccanelli, who once co-owned the Dallas Mavericks, calls it "probably the city of Dallas' most important building" and says his top priority is to maintain its historical importance.
The lobby floor will stay the same, as will the staircases, original marble, and overall structure. There will be hotel rooms on the lower five floors and residences on the top 11 floors.
The most exciting revelation is that it will have a 24-hour diner. We need restaurants that are open 24 hours. It'll also have a "high-end" restaurant, two-level bar, retail, office space, and rooftop pool, and a refurbishing of the legendary second-story ballroom, where performers such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra played. It's scheduled to open in October 2016.
The beautiful old house at 4901 Live Oak St. is going to be razed. This is the one that a couple was trying to turn into a wedding chapel until neighbors protested. The address is zoned for "multifamily residential," and the property has a new owner. The identity of that new owner is not known, but the candidate seems to be a company called Durham Builders.