As downtown Dallas sparks back to life, the city faces a crucial question: Tear down old buildings or save and rehab them? A task force on preservation was created after several historic buildings were demolished last fall without much warning. Katherine Seale chairs the city’s Landmark Commission and is also the head of that task force
For this week’s Friday Conversation, she talked about the task force’s new recommendations for the city.
Interview Highlights: Katherine Seale...
…On last fall’s surprise demolitions:
“…I don’t think many people saw it coming. It really hit folks in the gut I think because just the shock of seeing these 100-year-old buildings with a wrecking ball in the middle of downtown. There was enormous public outcry saying, ‘I can’t believe Dallas is still, at this day and age, when we’ve recognized that we have so few historic resources left in our downtown, we’re still demolishing buildings.’”
…On the task force’s suggestion of ‘delayed demolition’:
“After the demolition of those buildings…the city put into place a 10-day demolition delay…Before the demolitions, anyone could walk into our building inspection office and fill out the paperwork to demolish a building and return that day with a demolition permit in hand. The task force was trying to prevent those demolitions by midnight and have some type of review process.”
…On why the Continental Avenue Bridge did not make it past the Landmark Commission:
“A lot of the landmark commissioners felt we would have a more impactful role if we included ourselves in the debate as to what should happen to historic resources like the Continental Bridge, but by just identifying its stylistic characteristics and then writing some criteria to protect those really wouldn’t accomplish the goals of the program.”
On the importance of historic preservation in downtown Dallas:
“…The most successful cities -- not only in economics, but also a culturally and historically diverse downtown – are more exciting and more attractive, they have livelier streets when they have a good mix of old and new.”
The Downtown Dallas Historic Preservation Task Force will present these recommendations to a city council committee on April 20.