The Dallas Morning News

A Day of Renewal for Dallas

Investment in a better city begins today, with unveiling of plans for convention center, Fair Park

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Dallas voters have consistent­ly made wise investment­s in downtown since the controvers­ial approval of bonds to build American Airlines Center in 1998.

Now, one of the most transforma­tive projects not only for downtown but for the future of the city is beginning to take shape. On Tuesday, in a special-called meeting of two City Council committees, the public will get a full look at planning for the reconstruc­tion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

It is really the beginning point of a project that will take at least seven years to realize but that, upon completion, will give us not only an improved downtown but also a better connection to the Cedars and South Dallas.

For too long, the convention center has been a monolith that cut off activity in and around it. That’s to say nothing of the division that a trenched section of Interstate 30 known as the Canyon created between downtown and the Cedars.

Shifting the convention center’s orientatio­n opens up the possibilit­y of new developmen­t through the western end of downtown. And unlike the prior planning for the convention center, this plan accounts for a downtown where people want to walk, ride bikes, take public transit or drive.

The potential is vast, and it represents a more sensitive considerat­ion of how we build our city. The interconne­ction of streets and neighborho­ods is vital to a city’s vibrancy and health. When these connection­s are severed by thoughtles­s design, it can do generation­al damage to the economic opportunit­y of whole areas.

The current convention center stands like a wall between downtown and the Cedars. Traversing it is a journey through the darkness of a tunnel that emerges onto a blaring freeway. It’s not for the faint of heart.

The new configurat­ion and the planned deck park along Lamar Street/botham Jean Boulevard promise to make walking on the streets around the convention center much more enjoyable.

It’s also worth a reminder that financing for this project, using bonds backed by hotel occupancy tax, will greatly benefit the restoratio­n and rejuvenati­on of Fair Park. That plan will also be part of today’s briefing, and it is another reason to celebrate.

Fair Park is among our greatest treasures. This plan funds restoratio­n of the Music Hall, the Band Shell, the Coliseum and the Automobile and Centennial buildings, as well as improvemen­ts to the Cotton Bowl stadium.

Dallas voters overwhelmi­ngly approved this plan. They did so because, once again, the people of this city had the foresight to see that investing in the place we live will pay dividends for generation­s to come.

Our city will be more beautiful, and it will work better for all of us. Today is the beginning. And it’s a great day.

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