Dallas and Dwaine Caraway Both Have Big Plans for the Reunion Arena Area, but Only One Involves Prince's "Purple Rain."

PrincePurpleRain.jpg
Downtown Dallas 360, the city's long-range master plan for the area, has high hopes for southwestern downtown. Where Reunion Arena once stood, it envisions a cluster of mid-rise mixed-use developments. These would be clustered around a promenade and central park and would be accessible by stops on the new Oak Cliff street car lines and by foot. The parking garage along the Houston Street Viaduct would become a terraced park leading down to the Trinity River Corridor, and Union Station would become a transit hub, seamlessly connecting the area with the rest of the city.

That's a long way off. The area remains a lifeless, forbidding tangle of concrete with no housing, retail or green space to speak of, a legacy of the area's history of rail yards and industrial plants combined with '80s-era urban planning. But the city is looking to take one small step in that direction.

At a briefing this morning, the city council gave initial approval to a land swap with Hunt-Woodbine, the developer that owns whatever portions of southwesternmost downtown that doesn't belong to the city. Right now, the holdings of the two entities are arranged in a sort of checkerboard fashion. After the swap, each would control a solid block of real estate, thereby making the land easier to develop.

It's "part of changing the whole dynamic of what we want downtown to be," John Crawford, CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc., told the council.

The swap is part of a 1974 master agreement between Hunt-Woodbine and the city in which the developer agreed to build the Hyatt Regency and renovate Union Station in exchange for the city's construction of Reunion Arena. The hope is that consolidating the tracts of land will make it easier to develop.

Under the terms of the deal, the city will give up 8.2 acres, including the Reunion Arena site and a small parcel along Stemmons, in exchange for 6.6 acres on the other side of the Jefferson Viaduct. To make up for the discrepancy in land area, Hunt-Woodbine will pay the city $3.5 million.

"It opens up great possibilities. It really does," said Theresa O'Donnell, the city's director of sustainable development and construction. "The exchange is they get this, we get this plus $3.5 million."

It was at this point that Councilman Dwain Caraway chimed in to eulogize Reunion Arena and offer his own suggestion for revitalizing the area. It used to be, Caraway said, that downtown was the place to go to see Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, and Prince (Caraway was careful to point out that he was referring specifically to the "Purple Rain" era). Now concertgoers head down I-30 to Grand Prairie.

Caraway's solution, familiar to anyone who's heard the man talk for more than five minutes, is to revitalize the Dallas Convention Center and transform the arena into a place that will attract and host big-time acts.

"I'm also going to suggest that the $3 million, I want some of that to go to the arena," he said, in reference to the cash the city will be getting from Hunt-Woodbine. "Y'all figure out between now and this week how to get this money into the arena."

This last part was directed at City Manager Mary Suhm, whom he preemptively thanked for being such a forceful advocate for his cause.

"I'm not saying anything Mr. Caraway," Suhm demurred. "I'm listening."

Caraway rode his convention center hobby horse for a few more minutes before adding, "Thank you, Mary, for saying you're really, strongly going to make this happen."

And by "this," we can only assume he was referring to a Prince concert.

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14 comments
downtownworker
downtownworker

The $3.2 million can benefit the Reunion District by helping fund a 0.7 mile extension of the Oak Cliff streetcar into Zang and Davis. The closer the streetcar gets to Bishop Arts, the more people will park at the Reunion garage.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

Didn't I read here a while back that some woman or family owns a sliver of property that the city was trying to buy?  What happened there or am I thinking about some other piece of property?

Hillary
Hillary

Doesn't Dwaine remember that Prince back out of the Super Bowl XLV party that was supposed to be located at the old Reunion Arena site?

kduble
kduble

The transit hub idea is long overdue. We could have our own version of the Port Authority Terminal at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street. This is the only spot in North Texas where the Oak Cliff Streetcar and future streetcar extensions could correspond with the TRE, Amtrak, and DART's Red and Blue lines. We could also tie in the Green and Orange lines at this location, Megabus, and we could close and relocate the terminal for Greyhound and the Mexican bus lines.

 The site could replace DART's East and West transfer centers, and Rosa Parks. We could have cab stands, car rental (Fort Worth's transit terminal has this already), and we could eventually accommodate high speed rail from this location as well. New York's PTA terminal has shops and eateries; it even had a bowling alley the last time we were there. This is the opportunity of the century for Dallas.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

hey Dwaine, if you haven't noticed the City has built 4 new venues on the north side of the CBD in what most call "the arts district". at this point in time there aren't enough events to keep these venues "out of the red" financially.

IOW Dwaine, get a clue. have someone explain it to you. just stop, please, just stop.

now, as far as the land swap with Ray Hunt, what does the city get in guarantees of the future development, and what amount is the city on the hook as far as the future costs of infrastructure needed for the future development?

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Scruffy is dead on. And we still have Starplex or whatever they call that place these days. Between AAC and Starplex along with the clubs in Ellum we don't have a venue shortage. Though I do miss the Bronco Bowl as a great mid-level venue.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Mary's thinking that 3 and a half mil will buy a lot of golf balls...

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

The AAC would STILL have first right of refusal to any concert, therefore rendering his idea stupid and only allowing concerts by Nevilles not named Aaron, bastardized versions of 50s/60s bands, and other acts that couldn't fill a gymnasium, much less an arena.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Really? They'll just let Dwaine ramble mindlessly along like that? Doesn't this guy have handlers or something to make sure he doesn't just veer into the ditch like this?

Good grief.

downtownworker
downtownworker

@1dailyreader You're referring to the sliver of land at the Omni Hotel site. The city has already settled with the property owner and the purchase is complete.

CrackerDaddy
CrackerDaddy

@mavdog There's also the concert venues in the Cedars at the old Gilley's complex.

Daniel
Daniel

@TheCredibleHulk He does have handlers -- two of them. Unfortunately, both Arthur and Archie had the day off, however.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

@downtownworker Thanks for the info.  Now I'm wondering what ever happened to the property that some bank was trying to purchase.  I believe it was in Little Mexico area and there was development sprouting all around the small wood frame home.

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