Is Belo Building"Wall Of Spite" Between the Downtown Garden and Metropolitan Condos?

Categories: Development
belogarden1.jpg
Andrea Grimes
Some Metropolitan Condo residents say they don't want a 12-foot "wall of spite" standing between their lobby and the Belo Gardens, seen under construction here.
The Belo Garden -- slated to go in at the corner of Main and Griffin downtown, where the federal courthouse parking lot used to be -- has been plagued by soil-quality delays practically since plans began six years ago. But the park, funded by "Belo-related parties" in conjunction with public money, also faces opposition from residents at the adjacent Metropolitan Condos who say a 12-foot wall separating the park from their entrance driveway will be an eyesore and a safety hazard.

"I call it reverse philanthropy," said Wayne Garcia, a five-year resident of the building and one of the first tenants to move in. When I spoke with him outside the condos this morning, he said he believes the wall will create a kind of tunnel, encouraging urination, vagrancy and crime right in front of the glass-walled Metropolitan lobby. Garcia and some fellow homeowners call this the "wall of spite," because, they say, Belo has refused to negotiate with their new neighbors.

"We have asked for all kinds of solutions," Garcia said, including shortening the wall or limiting access to the Metropolitan driveway to reduce through traffic, but in what he characterizes as "patronizing" meetings, Belo reps have refused to listen.

I called Jennifer Pascal over at Allyn Media, who's handling press for the garden. She said the disagreement "bums [her] out."
belogardenrender.jpeg
Hargreaves Associates
A rendering of the Belo Garden wall, facing Metropolitan Condos.
"We have met with the residents and we have met with building management and the owners to talk about the whole garden in general," she says, adding that the wall is part of the original design of the park. Architects Hargreaves and Associates "spent a lot of time determining
the height of the wall based on the aesthetics of the Metropolitan building," she says, and also intended to keep cars driving down the Metropolitan driveway from careening into the park.

"They come through pretty quickly," she said, and the wall will protect the  "people who would
be right there at the park."  Because the park is not meant to be utilized for concerts, like Main Street Garden, a wall is necessary to preserve the intimate, garden-like feel. She also added that due to the grade of the land, a 12-foot height is an exaggeration, and it will be more like nine feet.

But Wayne Garcia said he has heard all these excuses before, and he's not buying it.

"The wall is excessively high," he says. A real-estate agent with a degree in architecture, Garcia believes "no architect in their right mind would design a 12-foot-high wall in a park in a downtown area." Garcia says car safety concerns could be addressed with a lower wall or restricted driveway access. He also wonders if the existing plan will create blind corners for motorists pulling away from the condos, putting sidewalk pedestriansat risk. Most of all, he fears a dark, tunnel-like space that could create "issues with urination and trash and criminal activity."
 
When I stopped by the condos earlier today, building management told me they're expecting to participate in a conference call with Belo folks this afternoon to discuss the park plans -- stay tuned for an update.


A Friend of Unfair Park sends along architectural drawings of the wall -- it's 12' 4"-12' 6", here:

Belo Garden Wall Mockup


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107 comments
Daniel Windham
Daniel Windham

Even better than a cold, granite slab would be a nice and modern 'living' wall that improves the lives of ppl who have to walk by- still giving a garden atmosphere to the park. Make it 3 to 4 ft tall, and break it up with a 4 foot opening every 12 feet or so. They get a wall of sorts, and can talk rhetoric bullsh*t about it being green and everything-- and the neighborhood has something nicer to look at and use. like this but 4' tall with breaks: http://www.biotecturefl.com/im... 

Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor Lighting

Hi,Thanks for putting this wonderful post and sharing this amazing information.:)

Outdoor Garden Lighting
Outdoor Garden Lighting

What a place. very nice.well...This is such a wonderful post. Outdoor lighting have its own features which makes the yard or outdoor place very decorative. Putting the stylish lights in outdoor create the magic and make the place pretty.

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Pond Filters
Pond Filters

This one is very nice pictures of garden.Relay this one is grate and amazing garden .The building which is near to garden is also very nice and beautiful.

Stacy Phillips1980
Stacy Phillips1980

Building this wall has got to be the stupid thing I have ever heard of!! 1st off these downtown parks are being built as catalyst for residential growth...If this is the case then why in the hell are we putting a 12ft wall infront of the ONLY residential building facing the park which will contribute to 90% of of it's usage...I mean come on...seriously....theres a damn parking lot in front of the park ....wall that up.. 2nd....walling in the main entrance of a residential building is a SERIOUS safety concern for the residents.. One whole block walled in....except for the sides....sounds like the perfect mugging spot to me.. If these wall has to be built then why can we create some openings in it somewhat like a viaduct....it will still add to the intimacy of the park and create a window to the metropolitan...

homeowner
homeowner

Ok, Belo has more money and clout with the city than anybody else. Hmmmm?.... Let them build their wall but how many people need to be mugged, stabbed, or raped around the wall to justify a class action liability suit against the city, designer, or Belo? Who owns the liability? The city can not stand up and say "we didn't know there were any security issues in owning a 12 foot wall that invites crime". You can bet your ass that if my family is injured out there someone will be held responsible.

James Jelly
James Jelly

this is on the South ancillary of the park, it will actualize a adumbration at it's bottom that will accomplish it difficult to abound annihilation there, no flowers will blossom on its face. In that case I'd prefer, if not bollards, something with added of a blockade effect.Pond Liners

DwnTwnAdvct
DwnTwnAdvct

Hey Jennifer Pascal , with your backwards logic all sides of the park should we walled off!! Any idiot knows that the cars traveling on Main street, Commerce, and Lamar pose a much greater risk to “careening” then a single lane private drive with 9 speed bumps.Earn your paycheck and come up with a stronger argument then "architects worked hard" or "cars drive pretty fast" on the private drive.

Belo has an opportunity to enhance Downtown Dallas and create a beautiful pedestrian path. This location is currently a high pedestrian traffic area now, with 10-20 people walking through it per 60 seconds during rush hours and lunch. But who really cares about them, right? As an added bonus Downtown Dallas citizens get a fresh smell of homeless piss on the morning walk to work. ( I hear it’s got more kick then the average cup of joe). What a thoughtless gift Belo.

And Hargreaves and Associates, as a fellow Architect I am severely disappointed in you! Way to squander a tough design challenge that could have a been a beautiful opportunity. Taking the easy way out makes you a “CAD Monkey”, educating your client and designing for the greater good of downtown Dallas make you an Architect. I’m aware of the conversations (or should I say lack thereof) that occurred with Belo, you, and the developer. No compromise was even initiated. You might have lined your pocketbook this time, but ultimately designed yourself into a sticky political corner. Good luck finding work in a recession after you strain your relationship with all of downtown Dallas. ( I smell layoffs)

Someone who cares...
Someone who cares...

Here is a thought...use the $750K to improve the downtown homeless shelter and build something worthwhile for people that need help!

jeeze louise
jeeze louise

What about that little sculpture garden at Young & Market? Is that a Belo property? Didn't they go in and LOWER the walls around that fairly recently? Why? Was it because tall walls are not inviting?

RRTX
RRTX

I can imagine being the concierge at the Hotel Adolphus, Joule Hotel or Magnolia Hotel and having to warn people that wish to walk to the park that it will be just past a block deep dark alley, the smell of urine and a big graffiti covered wall.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

If 750,000 is the correct payout for for what is built here are the numbers...

$750,000 -Actual cost of structure = A nice profit .Anyone need more of an explanation.

Gmichulka
Gmichulka

GM Metro ResidentThere is no logical reason for a 12' wall. Anyone that thinks there is is an idiot. If Belo wants to punish the Met then put up an attractive see trough fence. We will still allow the dallas police use our drive to observe what is happening there and our desk personnel will report any questionable activities that they see.This is a continuing problem with the city govt in dallas that was created by a Federal judge and the unintended results of federal meddling. We now have 14 fifedoms rather than a city. The mayor is the only office that represents the city. If we had the same political system then that we have now, DFW would have never been built and Ft. Worth where successul rich individuals serve their city would be further ahead of dallas. Belo can do what it wants to because there is no piper to be paid other than the expense of an assinine wall.Quit taking the DMN and watching WFAA TV.

Linda
Linda

I believe the proposed wall is actually 12.5 feet (and a waste of over $750,000). See my blog at http://www.thoughts.com/Though...-----and don't just comment on the article ... send your opinions to the city via Angela Hunt, Dallas City Council Member, angela.hunt@dallascityhall.com, (214) 670-5415

Copper522
Copper522

Money talks in Dallas and we all know what walks.......

TearDownThatWall
TearDownThatWall

Why is it necessary to build a 12' high wall to protect the park from cars, when interstate highways are designed with 3' high railings to keep 75 mile an hour cars in line? Really? The driveway is merely a drop off for guests and residents. There are 6-8 speed bumps, no one travels more than 15 mph through there. The entrance to the metropolitan is not on Main or Commerce streets, so there is no option to have access from either street. Otherwise that would have been a solution. This is a "bad-for-the-city" design and will surely be a negative space that will pose safety issues for years to come. If car disaster is really the issue, then build the wall on the Griffin street side... Cars zip down that street at 40 mph. But even then, a 3' wall will suffice.

TearDownThatWall
TearDownThatWall

This is an architectural abomination! Build the wall and leave downtown Dallas with a wall that will eventually cost the city with lots of problems for generations to come.

Bob Loblaw
Bob Loblaw

Not to change the subject or criticize the park (who doesn't love a park?). But they took out like 200 parking spaces in front of the courthouse. I was hoping they were going to core to the center of the Earth and put in a giant under-park parking garage. It would totally pay for itself. Probably too late, eh?

Elkay
Elkay

Who is authorizing this gross misuse of funds that will build a wall nobody wants or needs? Belo? Who made them the city planner? This sounds like a grudge between a couple of people and the outcome affects the city of Dallas. Isn't this obviously wrong? Isn't the "greater good" important in building public parks? Somebody make this stupidity stop.

Mike
Mike

Isn't this story that Belo asked Metro not to have the driveway and Metro said no. We'll build on our property as we see fit. Metro asked Belo not to have the wall and Belo said we'll build on our property as we see fit.

No bad guys here. Private ownership triumphs. America is a great country, wouldn't want it any other way. For the rest of us, it's none of our business.

Debbie
Debbie

Can't they just put in an iron fence?

concerned dallas citizen
concerned dallas citizen

It is amazing to me the inflexibility that has been shown by the Belo Foundation. There have been several meetings trying to address this to the benefit of all parties. The condo complex has been willing to work to address the concern even offering to put additional security cameras on the building for the city but Belo Foundation has ignored it all. Hard to believe they want the condo complex to let them use the condo built and maintained driveway to build the park but are not willing to even entertain changes to it.

The park is and will be fantastic but even as acknowledged by the Dallas Parks department the wall will add to the crime in the area and is not needed for traffic protection.

If its really traffic protection that is the issue, why would they not put up walls all around the whole park rather than along the one area that has a few cars, lots of pedestrians and a watchful eye of a condo concierges 24x7.

I beg of Belo, wake up and help not just say NO!

skeezzzz
skeezzzz

I am a resident at The Metropolitan. I have discussed the wall with several landscape architects and they all agree a 12 foot wall does not conform with generally accepted design principles. Belo does wonderful things for the community but this wall of spite is not good for the city or downtown residents. There are numerous reasons to not build a 12 foot wall and no one has presented a legitimate reason for it. The city could do something but too busy french kissing Belo's ass. Angela Hunt ? I have only one vote.

fred
fred

What if a car careens into the wall?

Abuckley1970
Abuckley1970

Oooooh....A more serene setting for criminal activity. How thoughtful...

Metro Resident
Metro Resident

Who is the park being build for anyways? The people who live in Dallas, or the people who want to claim it?

Daniel
Daniel

It has been said that the other three sides of the park will be "protected" by natural landscaping, berms, trees etc. So why couldn’t they make the condo side protected in the same way? To me, it’s all excuses for just having it the way they want.

Someone who cares
Someone who cares

Why do Architects have a grand vision and never realized when the project is done it should be user friendly? It is common when you see walls is to keep people out and common for parks to invite people in. So why build a 9' to 12' wall to keep folks at the Metropolitan out?

If you actually live there you can appreciate the future park and know first hand when it was a parking lot the loud noise, crime, urination and other mischief activity and very grateful to see a wonderful park. But a 9' to 12' wall to hide criminal activity and separating Metro??? The park without walls is a gift to downtown Dallas...the park with a wall is a gift to grafiti artists and mischief activity because you cannot be seen. Ask any of the concierge at the Metro front desk whom have seen everything.

Metro Resident
Metro Resident

Last time I heard, that wall is going to cost clost to 3 quarters of a million dollars to build. What a waste of funds.

Ray Who
Ray Who

If the wall is there to protect the park from vehicles, where is the wall going to be placed on the other three sides? YEP, them thar are cars and trucks on those streets around the other three sides of the park. DUHHHHHHHHH.......sounds like there MUST be another reason.

Buckeye
Buckeye

And the shame was on the other side.

Nl_frnc
Nl_frnc

The interetsing thing here is belo's building the park, but the city (and therefore the taxpayers) will have to maintain it, perpetual cost. belo walks away with there name on the park, perpetual advertisement. shouldn't the taxpayers have a say on this wall? where's Angela Hunt when you need her?

William
William

thanks Advct. my thoughts exactly. Hargreaves execs must be spineless!

COPPERMAN
COPPERMAN

What we need is NOT another homeless shelter in downtown Dallas. We have enough problems with the homeless now. Maybe give the money to Highland Park and they can build a really nice homeless shelter in their city.

William
William

great comment. The park is already over budget and behind schedule a year due to a lead soil contamination clean up that was just completed. Lets put this wall money to better use elsewhere. I can think of a few uses.

DallasResident
DallasResident

But it's a park for the city and people of Dallas!!!!

William
William

except that the city is paying for an maintaining the park. It's not a private park.

Metro Resident
Metro Resident

Unless it's a wall infront of your house and you have to live there. I've been living in the Metro for over 3 years and I didn't have a say in this conversation about the property. It is my business, this is my home, just as it is the business of ever other person living here. It shouldn't be a pissing contest. That's what's wrong with America. Compromise and logical assessment should be in order, not battling egos.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Mike - It's not about Private ownership being triumphant. This is a CITY OF DALLAS PARK. For the citizens of the entire city. Just because I have the money to do something, doesn't mean I should be able to do it...because.

William
William

yes, there are many design solutions to mitigate the "hazard" of car headlamps and traffic along the rarely used drive.

Nl_frnc
Nl_frnc

11.5% of the whole cost of building the park is this wall? this has to be out of spite to the metro residents. is any other media covering this story?

Ray Who
Ray Who

Angela Hunt is hiding........no one will challenge Belo........that would be political suicide....in Dallas, Neiman Marcus, Belo, and AT&T get what they want.........period.

DowntownAndOut
DowntownAndOut

BELO go to Angela first. She supports the wall unless The Metropolitan removes their drive completley.

NealK
NealK

We already have a lovely homeless shelter. Four of them actually, in those little pavilions on the Mockingbird overpass at Central Expressway. But keep the good ideas coming!

Copper522
Copper522

It is out of spite NI and don't think its not.

Copper522
Copper522

Boy did you hit the nail right on the head. Money talks and you know what walks?

concerned dallas citizen
concerned dallas citizen

not hardly - there is Fox4, Channel 5 and Channel 11. I even bet the Metro editor at the Dallas Morning News would be amazed that in this city spite walls are being put up!

DallasResident
DallasResident

Well...now that Angela Hunt is not running for mayor, she should remember the people who put her in that chair!!!

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