Main Street Garden Needs a Few Finishing Touches Before Its November 13 Opening

Categories: News
20091012_Michels_LeniSchwendinger.jpg
Patrick Michels
Last week, we caught New York-based artist Leni Schwendinger with her Main Street Garden light sculpture, one of five.
We're, oh, 'bout three weeks away from the official dedication of Main Street Garden downtown, as November 13 is now the ribbon-cutting date. And, from the looks of the site last weekend, there's still much to be done -- it looked awful ... squishy, given all the rain of late. There's also much left to pay for: Tomorrow, the Park and Recreation Department will OK giving $470,000 and some change in added construction costs to Phillips/May Corporation, which ran into a few unexpected issues during construction of the city's first urban park among several on the drawing board.

Willis Winters, Park and Rec's assistant director, says the added expenses -- the project so far has run $630,000 over the original guesstimated cost -- were necessitated by the fact that Phillips/May ran into several unforeseen issues during construction. Such as: Initial conceptual renderings "did not include irrigation of the canopy over the cafe and seating area, and we realized there was no allowance for an irrigation system." And: Pieces have been added to the kiddie play area. And: A sound system's been added throughout the park. And ...

"There were code requirements to deal with," he says. "Such as, the city says you need a grease trap interceptor in the cafe or a sanitary sewer. The Transportation Department stopped by and said, 'We need you to add additional parking meters on Main Street. And then there were unforeseen site conditions: When they started digging, they found foundations old building that needed to be dealt with that no one knew was there. All those things add up to $470,000, and you add that to previous two change orders that totaled $160,000. So that's a little under 8 percent of the original construction value, which falls under normal range for change orders."

Fact is, Winter says, this has been a surprisingly complicated job -- mostly, because it's something the city's never done before.

"We've never built a cafe before -- a permanent cafe and restrooms. We've never done a canopy with a misting system. Our fountain has a water system we've never used before. There are five pairs or garden shelters along Main Street, which are public art and are technologically advanced. We found out as we were working on those the heat from the LED lights was fairly significant and had to inslall fans to keep the heat down. We ran into a lot of complexity on those garden shelters. Things like that.

"But this is a pretty important project for Dallas -- our first urban park. Were doing things we've never done before and want to ensure the park is of the highest quality and is easiy maintained and is successful."

On a related note, says here that AIA-Dallas hopes to unveil that Statler shroud around the time Main Street Garden makes its bow. It's all happening.
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