And Whatever Became of First Presby's Plans to Buy and Restore 508 Park Avenue, Anyway?

plansfor508park.jpg
The latest look at plans to redo the block that includes 508 Park Avenue, complete with amphitheater
It's been, what, four whole months since last we visited 508 Park Avenue and the surrounding properties, which remain in limbo at this late date. (Though better that than a heap of bricks.) First Presbyterian Church of Dallas acknowledged way back in August 2010 that it wants to buy the building in which Robert Johnson, Bob Wills and maybe even Charlie Parker recorded. But as First Presby's senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Joseph J. Clifford, told us in December, it's only taking 508 Park off of Glazer's Distributors' hands if it can raze the adjoining 1900 Young Street, which is where it intends to build an amphitheater.

Last we looked, the Landmark Commission's downtown task force and city staff gave the plans and property the "courtesy review" once-over and concluded that First Presby needed to reconsider its demo plans for 1900 Young. But at its January 4 meeting, the Landmark Commission actually gave First Presby its blessings, with some caveats. From the minutes of that meeting:
Approve the courtesy review with the condition that retention of the 12 x 12 foot stone corner portion of the existing 1900 Young Street building be retained and integrated into the amphitheater design to make it more compatible with the historic overlay district, with the finding the existing structure is a contributing structure to the Dallas Downtown National Register District with the final plans, elevations, and details submitted for Landmark Commission approval.
Which brings us to today. Or tomorrow, actually: 508 Park Avenue, 1900 Young Street and 1905 Canton Street (site of the church's proposed greenspace) are on downtown task force's agenda yet again. First Presby still wants to raze 1900 Young and replace it with that amphitheater, while giving 508 Park Avenue a "facade restoration." Landmark will make the final determination at its May 2 meeting (six days before Robert Johnson's 100th birthday), at which point, just maybe -- finally -- the buildings will have a future instead of a vaunted past.

"This is the final hurdle," Clifford tells Unfair Park this afternoon. He says should Landmark sign off, "our hope is we can close and move forward as quickly as possible."

Update at 3:10 p.m.:
What odd timing -- OvationTV just posted to YouTube the clip of Eric Clapton performing Robert Johnson's "Me and the Devil" in 508 Park Avenue. It follows on the other side of the crossroads.


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6 comments
Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Its a nice idea and an excellent venue concept for the property, but seeing the presbys want to run it leaves me a bit concerned. If they can shut down the bum toilet across the street, then I might consider getting behind this project.

how many more years
how many more years

johnson alone would merit something, but, let's face facts: this is and forever will be the dallas mentality towards the arts (the relevant arts) much less history (the relevant history) and all that implies..

moderndrift
moderndrift

What's the amphitheater for? Our very own Stubb's?

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

As Clifford told me at the end of last year, "We're really excited about the possibilities of building something off the musical heritage of the site and how that relates to our ministry." The outdoor stage would be part of that.

moderndrift
moderndrift

From the January 4th docs:

FPC proposes to remove the adjoining one-story structure at 1900 Young Street. The resulting open space will be used to create an outdoor venue for church performances, gatherings and social activities.

moderndrift
moderndrift

I saw those details in one of the previous posts you linked to, just didn't know if more had come to light regarding their plans for the music venue.

If this thing does go through, I imagine I won't be sipping a cold one in a Downtown amphitheater the next time some band I like rolls through town.

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