A Closer Look at Proposal For 1401 Elm St. Makeover Shows Plan to Close Access to Tunnels

1401lobbyplan.jpg
What you see above comes from teeny-tiny type on Page 13 of the proposal we posted below for Mukemmel "Mike" Sarimsacki's plans for 1401 Elm Street, where he says he intends to build residential, retail and office space where there's presently 1.3 million square feet of empty. Far as the city's concerned, this guy's The Real Deal with Big Money -- the front man of "a group with significant capital capacity and longer term vision," in the words of Karl Zavitkovsky, head of the Office of Economic Development, who compares the Polidev International bossman to Joule-r Tim Headington in terms of "vision and capital capacity."

But back to the rendering. Because, you'll see, it says: "Tunnel access to be closed off per city 2013." Now, it's no secret the city hates the downtown underground; City Manager Mary Suhm said not so long ago they breed "a community of moles," while the Downtown Dallas 360 plan more or less has them being filled in with concrete (OK, not quite), just the way Laura Miller once envisioned. But it does raise the question: Is the city officially shuttering the tunnels in two years? Because that's news.

"They're not going to be developing the tunnel underneath their building, and they're going to close it off," Zavitkovsky tells Unfair Park. OK, but ...

"I think it's no secret that the 360 plan and Downtown Dallas and basically the city would prefer to see the activity on the street," Zavitkovsky says. "But does that mean everything underground gets closed down? No. It would depend on what kind of alternatives are developed. Some of the underground space clearly services the buildings above very well. It's difficult to make some broad sweeping statement. But as general comment, we're going to be very supportive of anything that supports street activity and wouldn't be looking to sponsor new development in the tunnel."

Zavitkovsky says he never spoke with Sarimsakci about the tunnels; those plans were hatched, he says, between the developer and Jerry Merriman, just between the two of them.

"That's their plan," says Zavitkovsky, who says he sees Sarimsakci every two, three weeks during his now-regular visits to town. (Zavitkovsky says he's been coming to town regularly for the past six months to look at 1401 Elm and other properties, as Leslie mentioned this morning.)

But, sure. This is a big deal for those who love and loathe the tunnels. Because the old Elm Place provided, till its shuttering in January 2010, one of the main entrances to the tunnels. "It's how I used to make it from Bank of America to the Tower Club," says Zavitkovsky. And soon, should the deal go down and the building come back to life, that escalator to the tunnels will be gone for good.

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23 comments
Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Since our city betters feel that they should close the tunnels and get the Morlocks (H. G.. Wells Time Machine’s) out on to the streets (especially in the 100 degree plus days) perhaps it is time that we close the parking at city hall and make them WALK a few blocks to their offices in City Hall.   I have gotten the impression  (due to past articles in the DO) that the council has limited public access to the City Hall parking to the public as to make it more difficult for the PEOPLE (who voted them into office) from coming down the horseshoe to have their pleas heard.  On a fitness note it will be good for the city staff and council to do a little walking to help burn off that fat they carry from sitting on their asses.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

The tunnels have survived just fine without this access point, so why reopen it? I'm actually more concerned about the lack of balconies than tunnel access, if we are just talking about amenities.

As for the larger question about the tunnels, I think the city is doing the right thing about closing off certain ones. Keep the skybridges and food courts open, but at least close the ones that kill street life on Main Street.

Buckeye
Buckeye

Flood the tunnels and create an underground canal system with high-speed water taxis.  Kick-ass.

TJ
TJ

I'm in total agreement with heyheymama.  I can only think of three places where the tunnels are really active, and that's only during lunchtime during the week.   Besides that they''re pretty dead.  People who work and live downtown are the same people who visit the surburban style strip centers and restaurants found all over DFW.  If you put something they want outside of the tunnels, people will go.  Put a pedestrian dive like Cheesecake Factory downtown, outside of the tunnels,  and people will be there in droves.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Toll Tunnels

That would solve multiple problems.Get more people on the street, and keep the douchebags off it, while making some money to pay for pothole repair and swimming pools.

TrueTv
TrueTv

info on Mike the Turk "Developer" :

Black Sea Gallery - CLOSED  Category: Furniture Stores  4/5/2008  DO NOT SHOP THERE !!!Owners  Mike Sarimsakci (Mukemmel), Lilianne (Mikes wife) and Tony (Liliannes brother) That is a scam business. They take customers money and they use it. you buy today but they place orders 4-5 weeks later. they are trying to order everything together so that they can get a better deal from the manufactory and lower their shipping costs. Same sofas you can buy from somewhere else for a lot cheaper and faster. They sell Stanton and Lane furniture and everybody sells those.They use different model names for sofas and fabrics so that you cant go and compare. 3 of the stores are corporate and the rest licensee. BSG even screwed its own licensees. Thats why while having 13 stores around the bay they dont have that much now. Licensees are trying to get their money back from the company without going to the court. I know you are not happy and blaming employees for bad customer service. Even they know theirselves what kind of company they work for. But their hands are tied. Murat lies and gives you more and more discount so that he can get his commission. (he quit and came back) Kevin is not returning your calls cause he has nothing to say if he calls you. Maruly... oh my god... stay away from her, %90 she talk is a lie and you are lucky if you can catch the 10%.They keep their employees as a contractor  so that they dont pay pay roll tax.HEY.... cancel your orders. ask for refund !!! no store credit. if they want to they can give your refund same they. dont listen if they say ohh its been processing, refund request went to the office bla bla..., and write to BBB call your credit card company or even go to the court.UPDATE...BSG was on news tonight. (02/28/08) I watched them on NBC11. 6clients were complaining about their experience. tv introduced Tony Bader as regional manager - he is one of the owners...do you want to read the story and see Mike... so that you can talk to him if you see him in the store.  http://www.community-n...UPdate  03/19/08they closed oakland store. burlingame will be closing too end of march. they are thinking of selling the san jose store to someone else. so there wont be anymore black sea gallery soon.  hurry up and do something if you are still waiting for your furniture or money back !!!UPDATE 04/02/08Mukemmel (Mike) started telling his surroundings that he works for another company as an employee. I dont believe in this but he wants others to think that they have no money and even he is working on payroll which means dont ask money, dont expect money.Was this review …?Useful(12)Funny(7)Cool(2) Bookmark      Send To A Friend   Link to this Review1090 Lincoln AveSan Jose, CA 95125(408) 286-7800Extreme Builders  Category: Contractors  4/2/2008   First to Reviewibo... Very rude and horrible person. donot deal with him. his personal and technical skills needs to be improved. check his previous court cases. if he tries to tell how long has he been doing this business ask him why he has no regular staff but running the business himself.Was this review …?Useful(4)Funny(2)Cool(2) Bookmark      Send To A Friend   Link to this Review555 9th StreetSan Francisco, CA 94103(415) 252-8618

Trisha
Trisha

Yes!  Heaven forbid anything should be left convenient for walking, socializing, comfort, etc. in Big D.  Let's all jump in our cars & head for the 'burbs!!  Psst:  Leave the tunnels alone!

Mike
Mike

Elm Place is not a go through like Renaissance or Plaza. It always was a side path. You can seal it from the tunnels without hindering traffic.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Nice try Zavitkovsky. The note on the drawing says "Tunnel Access to be closed off PER CITY". As in, the City directed us to close off the tunnel access as part of our plan. The Architect just did what he was instructed to do. These city officials are gut-less wonders. How about just a little bit of integrity, AND a dash of honesty now and then would help too.

Death Valley
Death Valley

conquer the tunnels->conquer the heat strokes->reopen the tunnels

replay
replay

Tunnels.......schmunnels.........Zavitkovsky does what he's told to do........the problem with Downtown Dallas is THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE! Period. The tunnels are just the excuse du jour for politicians and city staff that have not been able to MAKE IT HAPPEN. After they conquer the tunnels, they'll have more excuses........might as well get ready.

heyheymama
heyheymama

I scratch my head in disbelief whenever the tunnel issue is raised.  Have been in the tunnels & skywalks many times in the last 8 years.  Have never passed more than a handful of people going from Fountain Place to beyond T-giving Square, plus the Plaza of the Americas branch and the First Baptist branch, with the one exception of a cluster of underground fastfood eateries somewhere past T-giving Square.  Past that point it gets deserted and creepy - have not gone past that point...can anyone confirm if there's more foot traffic past Elm St., which could give basis to this issue?

John_McKee
John_McKee

I almost made an offer on a condo at 1505 Elm and one of it's most appealing amenities was access to the tunnels.

I know the city wants access to the tunnels shut down and the developer wants money from the city but people LIKE the tunnels and for good reason. When downtown needs residents taking away a appealing feature to those residents doesn't seem like a good idea.

SchluderStrip
SchluderStrip

I always find it funny that a balcony is considered a necessary feature of a high rise residence.  Working in design, I guess I'm lumped with my colleagues in being the ones to blame for producing renderings of delicate, pristine breakfasts served on a linen covered table up on a 45th story balcony (such as those found with Museum Tower).  Truth be told, the environment up there is not pleasant or enjoyable....updrafts & winds blowing you around.  Plus its a liability for falling debri/people.

replay
replay

The Texas Historic Commission and National Park Service will not allow anyone to change the exterior appearance of this "historic" structure, so balconies are not feasible if you're trying to get the tax credits.

John_McKee
John_McKee

That will never fly because they can't be solar powered.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Or lease the whole network for urban paintball.

replay
replay

Are you sure? This doesn't sound like the guy Karl Z is describing. Maybe Karl Z is in the market for some new furniture?

scottindallas
scottindallas

A residential tower should be a better place to open restaurants and other businesses in the tunnel.  After all, they should have customers in the area for many more than just business hours. 

KarlZilchO
KarlZilchO

Dont ask Karl Z to be competent or honest. For God Sake, he works at City Hall!!!!!!!! 

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