Keep up to date with Preservation Dallas and preservation issues in the community.

Fair Park

IMG_4998This Monday, August 29th there will be a briefing to City Council on the proposed Management Agreement with the Fair Park Texas Foundation for Fair Park. The briefing will be in the City Hall (1500 Marilla Street)  Council Chamber at 1:00 and we need as many people there as possible to support the Foundation and the future of Fair Park!

At the briefing the Management Agreement will be presented and the Council will have a chance to ask questions of city staff and the Foundation. Although there will be no public comment, attendance is crucial to show the Council citizen support for the Foundation and the Agreement. Click here to view the briefing packet with a copy of the proposed Management Agreement and the Fair Park Texas Foundation presentation.

Much has been much said lately about the Foundation and Management Agreement. Here are the responses to some of those concerns:

Lack of public input – The Foundation and the Management Agreement have been discussed at numerous public and Park and Recreation Board meetings over the past year. Preservation Dallas staff and/or Board Members have been at every one of those meetings along with South Dallas community leaders and others.

Management fee is too expensive – The Foundation’s proposed management fee includes the transfer of the $11,000,000 that the City is currently spending annually on Fair Park, with an additional $7,000,000 added to that starting in October of 2017. The additional money represents only .2% of the City’s annual budget. The management fee will allow the Foundation to focus on marketing, communications, planning, and donor relations in a way the City never could.

Too much bond money for Fair Park – The Agreement specifies that the City of Dallas commit to including $75 million for capital expenditures at Fair Park in the 2017 bond package and $50 million in the 2020 bond package. In return, the Foundation will be responsible for raising $50 million in matching funds for both bond packages. Maintenance of Fair Park’s historic Art Deco buildings and art work has been gravely underfunded for decades. The deferred maintenance has taken its toll on the historic buildings and a large infusion of capital is sorely needed to fix the most pressing issues. Bond money for Fair Park will show potential donors that the City is committed to investing in Fair Park. Even then, approval of bond funding is ultimately a decision for citizens of Dallas to make.

No accountability for the Foundation – The Management Agreement includes certain performance objectives and a performance plan for the Foundation which must be approved by the Park and Recreation Board. In addition, the management fee is not guaranteed and must be appropriated annually by City Council during the budget process.

Lack of plan by the Foundation for Fair Park –  The Foundation has developed a plan for Fair Park to be initiated after the Management Agreement is approved. In short, the Foundation will work to hire an executive director and additional staff, work on funding for capital projects, conduct planning for the future of the park though an open process, and develop a signature family park within Fair Park. You can view the plan here.

Preservation Dallas continues to support the proposed Fair Park Texas Foundation to manage, promote and operate Fair Park, one of only three National Historic Landmark sites in Dallas County, as the best vehicle for finally addressing Fair Park’s needs. We believe the preservation of this architecturally and culturally significant historic resource, and the improvements necessary to enable it to better serve as a year-round destination for the region, state and beyond, are critical for the park’s future.

More specifically we support the Fair Park Texas Foundation because:

  • of the commitment the Foundation has made to the preservation and repair of the deteriorating historic buildings that make up the site – the thirty buildings that comprise the largest collection of Art Deco structures in the United States, without which there is no National Historic Landmark;
  • of its goal to make the site a year-round destination;
  • of the balanced composition of the Foundation Board and Advisory Board (click here for board resumes) that provides a variety of expertise that includes preservationist and Friends of Fair Park founder Virginia McAlester, the site’s current stakeholders, and neighborhood leaders; and
  • of Walt Humann’s proven track record as a successful leader in Dallas (DART and Central Expressway), within Fair Park (Science Place) and in Fair Park’s adjoining neighborhoods (Jubilee).


Click below to download any of the Fair Park files with more information:

Proposed Fair Park Management Agreement with-Fair Park Texas Foundation 08-29-16

Fair Park Texas Foundation Briefing Presentation to Council 08-29-16

Fair Park Texas Foundation Vision Briefing 5-5-16

Fair Park Texas Foundation By-Laws

Fair Park Texas Foundation Board Resumes

Timeline of Meetings Regarding Fair Park

2003 Fair Park Comprehensive Development Plan

Fair Park Task Force 2014 – Final report


Meadows Building Landmark Designation Process Initiated

Meadows Building (3)

By a unanimous vote of the Landmark Commission at their February 1 meeting, the Landmark Designation Process for the Meadows Building has been initiated. The City of Dallas now has two years to Landmark the building and during that time changes to the exterior of the building will have to be approved by the Landmark Commission.

The next step will entail the case being forwarded to the Landmark Designation Committee who will be responsible for developing the designation report for the building including the preservation criteria which will spell out what portions of the building and site are to be protected with Landmark Designation and require review by the Landmark Commission for alterations. The Committee will work with the owners on developing that criteria. Once that is finished the report and criteria will go to the Landmark Commission for review and if they approve of both it will head to the City Plan Commission for review. If the City Plan Commission approves of it the next step for it will be review at the City Council where they will make the final decision on whether the building should be a City of Dallas Landmark. All of the meetings along the way are open to the public with public comment allowed during the public hearings at the Landmark Commission, City Plan Commission, and City Council.\

Over new owners’ objections, historic Meadows Building could get city protection

The Meadows Building, which opened in 1955, was the first mid-rise office building to be built outside of the downtown core. It spurred the growth of office buildings closer to the new neighborhoods springing up in north Dallas in the 1950s. The design was simple and modern with clean lines and details representative of the new forward thinking architecture of the 1950s. It has become one of the best examples of the Mid-Century Modern style of architecture. The building is truly unique and one that was a trailblazer for modern office building design of the 1950s and 60s in Dallas.

1423 W. Griffin Street to be Moved

DSC_0225 (1024x681)

The Landmark Commission at their February 1 meeting decided not to initiate the Landmark Designation Process for the house at 1423 W. Griffin Street in order to give Time Warner Cable time to work on moving the house off the site. At the meeting Time Warner cable agreed to pay reasonable costs to move the house to another lot in the Cedars neighborhood. There is a developer in the Cedars neighborhood who is exploring the moving of the house to his lot.

Time Warner will move Victorian home in The Cedars it planned to raze

PREVIOUS POST – You may have seen in the news lately the story about the potential demolition of the blue house on W. Griffin Street in the Cedars. It’s the one that is very visible from Interstate 30 near the old Ramada Plaza Hotel currently undergoing renovation. The building is owned by Time Warner Cable who would like to demolish it for the expansion of their hub building next door, which would require additional room for parking.

This issue came to light late Friday afternoon January 8th when someone from the Cedars noticed the large piece of equipment on the front lawn with “Southwest Demolition” emblazoned on it. Dallas Heritage Village was contacted about the house and they subsequently contacted Preservation Dallas. Since the area falls under the new Demolition Delay Ordinance the city was then contacted to investigate. The city could not find a demolition permit on record for the property and on Saturday the City of Dallas marked the property with a “Stop Work” notice.

The following weekend Preservation Dallas went to work on the issue. Staff and board members visited the house to evaluate its condition and began researching its history. The house is very solid and doesn’t appear to have structural issues. The interior has been cleaned out and all plaster, doors, mantels, etc. removed.

Preliminary research has determined that the house dates back to at least 1885. Two board members are digging through records at the Dallas Public Library and Dallas County Records to see what they can find.

On January 11th the property was authorized to be placed on the February 1st Landmark Commission agenda to consider the initiation of the Landmark designation process. Time Warner will not be able to pull a permit to demolish the building before that time. The Landmark Commission will hold a public hearing at that meeting to get comments for and against the initiation of the Designation process. We will need as many people as possible to show up to the meeting to support the property.

Another option for the house is for someone to move it and restore it on another site, hopefully in the Cedars. Dallas Heritage Village has also been brought up as a possible relocation site for the house. However, they cannot consider taking the house unless it comes with enough money to move and restore it.

Preservation Dallas has also been in touch with Time Warner, specifically their Community Relations person in San Antonio, to discuss the situation and our interest in the historic house.

To read more about the house and the situation check out these article in the Dallas Morning News by clicking below:

Victorian home in The Cedars, built in 1880s, soon to become a Time Warner parking lot

Dallas to consider protecting historic Cedars home that Time Warner wants to raze

Near-demolition of Victorian house: Here’s what Dallas got right

DSC_0251 (1024x681) DSC_0248 (1024x681) DSC_0229 (1024x681)

Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force Releases Recommendations – May 2015

The task force released the final recommendations on ways to better address the issue of the lack of protections for non-designated historic buildings in downtown Dallas. In January 2015, a task force comprised of downtown developers, property owners and representatives from local organizations within the preservation, planning and architecture community began meeting weekly to look at the current programs and policies of Dallas’ preservation program.  Their charge was to evaluate current preservation programs for their effectiveness protecting Dallas’ heritage while allowing for new development to take place downtown and in surrounding areas. During their meetings they heard from local experts, researched best practices from other cities around the country, and developed a set of recommendations for the City of Dallas to better protect its historic resources. During the task force’s April 1 meeting, the group voted unanimously to approve a three-phase set of recommendations that will result in benefits to all downtown stakeholders. The recommendations include:

Phase 1: Immediate Solutions (0-12 months)

1. Advocacy: Establish broad‐based Preservation Solutions Committee to advocate for historic fabric and be its voice as the City grows and evolves. Its first order of business is to help implement the following recommendations.

2. Simplify Designation: Streamline the landmark designation application and process.

3. Assess Staffing: Broaden staff capabilities to include planning and provide a new focus on public education. Review staff priorities to expedite landmark designations, file certificates of appropriateness, field inquiries, and assist owners with incentives. Fund two additional planners.

4. Demolition Delay: Enhance notification and expand staff review time for proposed demolition of historic buildings in Greater Downtown to foster dialogue and consider alternatives.

Phase 2: Near Term Solutions (1 to 3 years)

5. Education: Educate the public about the goals and accomplishments of preservation.

6. Downtown Survey: Conduct a new, state of‐the‐art survey of Greater Downtown as a base layer for direction, to establish reservation priorities, and to provide a tool for existing and future planning. Explore funding sources such as Community Development Block Grants, Certified Local Government money, and private foundations.

7. Incentives: Identify strategies and incentives that address market conditions and barriers to redevelopment to re‐animate vacant and underutilized buildings, such as: more flexibility in preservation criteria, parking requirements, permitting, and code requirements.

Phase 3: Long Term Solutions (3 to 5 years)

8. Preservation Plan: Prepare and adopt a new Preservation Plan for Dallas to address the programs and policies that impact the City’s historic urban fabric. Explore funding sources such as public/private partnerships, private foundations, and private sector money.

9. Planning: Create a forum for strategic interdepartmental partnerships where a common interest is being pursued such as Capital Improvements, Tax Increment Finance Districts, and Use/Zoning, and certain aspects of Economic Development.

The executive summary of the recommendations and the full report, with more detailed information for each recommendation, are available by clicking on the links below:

Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force Final Report Executive Summary  4-1-15

Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force Final Report 4-1-15

On April 20, the recommendations will be presented formally to the city’s Arts, Culture and Libraries Committee meeting at 3:00 at City Hall.

Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force Work – March 2015 Update

In response to the demolitions in downtown Dallas last fall, Mayor Rawlings and City Council Member Kingston authorized the creation of a task force in December to look at the current programs and policies of the city’s historic preservation program and evaluate them for their effectiveness to protect Dallas’ heritage while encouraging the management and growth of downtown and surrounding areas. The Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force began meeting in January and will met through March.

Task force members draw from a range of downtown developers, property owners, and representatives from local organizations from the preservation, planning and architecture community. The members include:

  • Katherine D. Seale – Preservation Task Force Chair, current Landmark Commission chair and former Preservation Dallas executive director
  • Larry Hamilton, founder and CEO of Hamilton Properties Corporation
  • Mitch Paradise, president of Paradise Development and representative for The Real Estate Council (TREC) representative
  • Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest and representative for Downtown Dallas, Inc.
  • Brian Keith, director of Urban Design/Planning at JHP Architecture/Urban Design and representative for Greater Dallas Planning Council
  • Brian Adams, principal at Callison
  • Scott Remphrey, president of The Brytar Companies
  • Todd Watson, vice president at Hunt Realty Investments
  • Bob Meckfessel, president of DSGN Associates and representative for AIA Dallas
  • Connie Cooper, owner of Cooper Consulting Company, Inc. and representative for the North Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association
  • David Preziosi, Executive director of Preservation Dallas

The first few meetings focused on the task force purpose, overview of the current City of Dallas Historic Preservation Program, economic incentives in the City Development Code, and the preservation status of the Dallas Downtown National Register Historic District. There was also a special presentation by Robin McCaffrey about the preservation movement from strategy to objective and finding its way back. Robin also talked about many of the early preservation efforts in the city and how those were accomplished.

A “north star” goal was established by the task force to guide future discussions. The goal is “how to protect the historic fabric of downtown while encouraging development.”  The task is looking at striking a balance between the two important goals of preservation and development considering what is good public policy, best practices to achieve preservation, program capacity, and advocacy mechanisms. The task force has been looking at other cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, San Antonio, and Austin to investigate best practices of historic preservation programs and development incentives.

The individual task force members also did individual research and reported back to the task force on items such as economic incentives, how building codes impact historic properties, Tax Increment Financing, easements for historic properties, and more. In addition, Karl Stundins from the City of Dallas Office of Economic Development discussed the Tax Increment Financing program at the city and how it has worked over the years, especially for buildings in downtown.

The meeting last week focused on identifying the issues we have now and how to better address them in order to come up with a set of recommendations for the city. At the next meeting on the 18th the recommendations to be delivered to the city will be discussed by the task force members.

Task Force Minutes:

Task Force Meeting Minutes_01212015

Task Force Meeting Minutes_01282015

Task Force Meeting Minutes_02042015

Task Force Meeting Minutes_02112015

Task Force Meeting Minutes_02182015

Task Force Meeting Minutes_03042015

Task Force Meeting Minutes_03182015

Preservation Task Force Created by the City — December 12

In response to the recent demolitions downtown, the Mayor and City Council have authorized the creation of a task force to look at the current programs and policies of the historic preservation program and evaluate them for their effectiveness to protect our heritage while encouraging the management and growth of our downtown.

The chair of the task force will be Katherine Seale, current Landmark Commission chair and former Preservation Dallas executive director. Task force members include a range of developers, property owners, and well as representatives from local organizations from the preservation, planning, and architecture community. Preservation Dallas is on the task force represented by David Preziosi, the current executive director.

The task force is scheduled to start in early 2015 with a short time frame to come up with ideas to bring back to city council for consideration.

City of Dallas City Council Briefing on Preservation — November 18

Preservation in downtown Dallas was on the agenda at the City Council Briefing on November 18. Preservation supporters helped fill the briefing room in a show of support for better protections for our historic buildings in downtown.

In the open microphone session both Katherine Seale, Chair of the City of Dallas Landmark Commission, and Scott Potter, Vice-President for Preservation Issues on the Preservation Dallas Board of  Trustees, spoke in favor of the city taking action to study ways to better protect historic buildings downtown. In Katherine’s presentation, as Chair of the Landmark Commission, she recommended that a Task Force be organized by the Landmark Commission and fall under their purview with a 90 day time limit to come up with suggestions to bring back to Council.

During the briefing David Cossum, the Director of the Sustainable Development and Construction Department at the City of Dallas, presented background on historic preservation, the Dallas Downtown National Register Historic District, historic structures not currently protected, and recommended strategies. Those strategies included the establishment of a Task Force to prioritize preservation efforts in the downtown area, updating the City’s Preservation Plan, and a change in the process for demolitions downtown. To view the presentation briefing click here.

After the presentation by city staff the Mayor and City Council asked questions and discussed the creation of the Task Force. The Council agreed that the Task Force would be best suited to fall under the Landmark Commission. Katherine will now have the task of getting that set up. She has plans for it to include a wide range of people from various organizations with professionals in preservation, real estate, commercial and downtown development, architecture, planning, and more.

This is a great first step and will allow some time to develop solid ideas to help protect historic buildings downtown. However, there is still much work to be done, especially with convincing the City Council and general public that it is in the city’s best interest to protect its historic buildings downtown. Especially if Dallas is to have a vibrant urban core to attract new businesses, residents and growth.

Preservation Dallas Public Forum on the Future of Historic Buildings in Dallas — October 16

Preservation Dallas, in partnership with the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library, held a public forum on the future of preservation efforts in Dallas and how to better protect Dallas’ historic buildings. Over 150 people attended the forum at the Erik Jonsson Central Library.

At the Forum the background on the Dallas Downtown National Register of Historic Places district and current legal protections for historic buildings in Dallas was presented. Following that was a panel discussion led by Bob Meckfessel of DSGN Associates on the current situation with the recent downtown demolitions and ideas on how Dallas can better protect historic structures. The panelists included: Beth Weidower – National Trust for Historic Preservation, Katherine Seale – Dallas Landmark Commission Chair, Marcel Quimby – Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture, LLP, Mark Doty – City of Dallas and Preservation Texas, and Greg Brown – Dallas Center for Architecture. Audience members had an opportunity to ask the panel questions.  Dallas City Council Member Philip Kingston also spoke. The Forum was closed out with a list of buildings Preservation Dallas would like to see protected, an action plan for the city to enhance preservation efforts and protections for historic buildings, and what people can do to help in the effort to enact better protections for our historic resources in Dallas. To download a copy of the PowerPoint given at the Forum click here.

The action plan that was presented included four points:

  • Develop a new Preservation Plan for the city, the last one was completed in 1988
  • Provide additional protections at the city level for buildings on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Provide better economic incentives for the redevelopment of historic structures in Dallas
  • Increase the number of City of Dallas preservation staff to better assist those wanting to preserve the history of Dallas

At the October 6 meeting of the City Council Arts, Culture, and Library Committee, Preservation Dallas and the City of Dallas Historic Preservation Staff were tasked with coming up with a list of buildings that needed protection in downtown Dallas and an action plan for the city to put into place to enhance protections of historic buildings not currently protected. At the Forum a list was presented with several buildings that should be protected and included:

  • Continental Building
  • Dallas Civic Arena
  • DescoTile Co.
  • 211 North Ervay
  • Gulf States
  • Juanita Building
  • LTV Building
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Statler Hilton
  • Wilson Building

Historic Buildings downtown that are currently protected with City of Dallas Landmark Structure status include:

  • Adolphus Hotel
  • Booker T. Washington H.S.
  • Busch/Kirby Building
  • Dallas High/Crozier Tech
  • Dallas Power & Light
  • Davis Building
  • Higginbothan – Bailey Building
  • Interurban Building
  • Magnolia Building
  • Majestic Theater
  • Merchantile National Bank
  • Old City Hall
  • Plaza Hotel
  • Republic Bank Tower
  • Santa Fe #1 & #2
  • Scottish Rite Cathedral
  • Union Station

The above list does not include structures within the West End Historic District or the Harwood Street Historic District as they are both City of Dallas Landmark Districts and are protected under preservation ordinances.

If you have other historic buildings downtown you would you like to see protected please contact the Preservation Dallas office.

 Headington Demolitions, September 2014

Update September 25, 2014

There have been some questions about where we go from here after the tragic demolitions downtown and what Preservation Dallas is planning to do. So we thought we would let everyone know what we are working on.

Since Monday we have:

  • Researched, crafted, and sent  out an official response to the media, the Mayor, and City Council regarding the demolitions.
  • Participated in interviews with different media outlets.
  • Reached out to both Council Members Kingston and Medrano, whose districts include downtown, about the issue.
  • Presented to the City Council today on the demolitions. You can read the presentation here.

This past Monday the majority of our regularly scheduled Executive Committee meeting was spent discussing the situation and crafting the media response. An additional full board meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday to further discuss the issue and to work on developing strategies to address the issue of the lack of protection for historic buildings in downtown.

We are also working on putting together a Public Forum on the future of our historic buildings downtown. The location and date are still being worked out; however, we are planning it for some time the week of October 6th. We will be inviting our partner organizations, the City, Preservation Dallas members, downtown developers, downtown residents, and anyone else who wants to come. We will send out a notice for the meeting when it is scheduled.

People have also been asking us what they can do to help. At this stage the biggest help would be speaking up about the horrific demolitions, the loss of our history, and the need for more protections for historic buildings in downtown. Let your Council Member or City Hall know how you feel! Our elected officials will need convincing to approve new protections for historic buildings in downtown. A wide base of public support from many people and groups will be crucial to enact stronger  protections! You can also take the one question poll that D Magazine is conducting on whether or not there should be more protections for buildings downtown. Click here to go to the poll.

Both the staff and board of Preservation Dallas are working as hard and as fast as we can to address this issue. We have been advocating for years for better protections for historic buildings and as tragic as this situation is, it may be the driving force for the greater Dallas community to let the City of Dallas know that our historic buildings are important enough to protect.

We greatly appreciate everyone’s support and with it we know we can make a difference!


Original Posting – September 23, 2014

What began as the demolition of a single historic building on Sunday the 21st has spread like a cancer to neighboring buildings between Main and Commerce Streets. Headington Companies, owner of the Joule, wantonly destroyed a part of the commercial history of Dallas. They have forever erased some of the last three-story historic commercial buildings representing commerce in the early twentieth century.

Following the demolition of 1611 Main Street it was discovered that on Friday afternoon before the demolition, Headington had taken out a demolition permit for all the buildings between Main and Elm, and the demolition of 1615 Main Street, and 1608-1614 Elm Street began Monday the 22nd. The demolitions were planned and completed without conversation with Preservation Dallas. In late May 2014, the Dallas Morning News published an article regarding the possible demolition of 1611 Main Street, which prompted repeated attempts to contact Headington. In response, we made numerous attempts to contact Michael Tregoning, the CFO for Headington, through US mail, email, and several voicemails – all of which went unanswered.

In the August 2014 FD Luxe published an article discussing the relocation of Forty Five Ten to downtown Dallas, revealing that the retailer would occupy several historic buildings across from the Joule and adjacent to the Tony Tasset sculpture garden. It appeared from this article that 1611 and 1615 Main Street were the referenced historic buildings and were therefore saved from demolition. Obviously, we and the public were misled by the article. Headington deliberately demolished the buildings without any public discourse on the importance of the buildings to Dallas, alternatives to demolition, or why the buildings could not be reused.

All of the buildings were listed as a Contributing structures in the Dallas Downtown National Register Historic District, meaning they had a great deal of integrity and contributed to the overall importance of the National Register District. While important, this designation is not enough to provide legal protection to threatened buildings facing the wrecking ball. Legal protection from demolition only comes from designation as a  City of Dallas Landmark or a location in a protected City of Dallas Landmark District; these buildings were neither, as is the case for many historic buildings in downtown Dallas.

It is truly heartbreaking when Dallas deliberately loses pieces of its history, especially given the historic integrity and importance of the buildings as representative examples of historic commercial architecture in downtown Dallas. These buildings stood for over one hundred years seeing the growth, decline, and resurgence of downtown Dallas; however, it only took a couple of days for a wrecking ball to turn the venerable structures into debris to be carted off to a landfill.

Unfortunately, it is too late for 1611 Main, 1615 Main, and 1608-1614 Elm Street, but we hope that some good can come out of this situation with a greater public discussion on the importance of our remaining historic buildings in downtown Dallas and what we can do to protect them. In order to prevent this from happening again we need to put increased pressure on the City to designate more buildings in downtown as City of Dallas Landmarks or establish additional City of Dallas Landmark Districts to cover more of downtown. Currently, only a number of buildings downtown are protected through Landmark status or through the Harwood Street Historic District, leaving many significant buildings at risk and without any legal protection. It will take the concerted effort of many to convince the City to establish better protections for downtown’s historic buildings before we lose more of our history to shiny new boxes. Preservation Dallas will continue to highlight the threat of other unprotected historic buildings at risk, collaborate with the City and other stakeholders to develop action plans for implementation by the City of Dallas, and more. This will be an uphill battle and one that we will need support from a broad base of people and organizations.

IMG_4573 - Copy (1024x768)1611 Main Street before

1611 Main 21611 Main Street during demolition

IMG_4569 - Copy (1024x768)1608-1614 Elm Street before

photo 11608-1614 Elm Street during demolition


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