Dallas City Hall Plaza Transformed

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011  |  Updated 7:12 PM CDT
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For a few hours, Dallas City Hall Plaza became a place to eat, play games and hear music.

Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

For a few hours, Dallas City Hall Plaza became a place to eat, play games and hear music.

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The normally quiet Dallas City Hall Plaza was transformed for a few hours into a place to eat lunch, play games and listen to music to demonstrate what the city's neighborhoods could be like.

A plan developed nearly 30 years ago prescribed many of the measures rolled out Wednesday by supporters of the Better Blocks Program and the Dallas Design Studio.

"It's pretty simple ingredients," said Brent Brown, of the Design Studio. "There's chairs and tables, there's some gaming sets like checkers and chess, you know, there's food."

A shipping container was used as a temporary food vendor stand.

Wandering minstrels serenaded visitors who played board games and ate.

Dallas city employees and council members streamed outside to enjoy the atmosphere.

"It's a way to interact and have some fun and get away from work for just a little bit," said employee Danna Soto, who played dominoes over lunch with co-worker Angelica Morales.

"I like it," Morales said. "It's fun. Definitely a stress relief if you're going to sit in the office all day."

Some downtown workers visiting the plaza said it seemed like Dallas had become an entirely different city.

"I feel like I'm in Austin right now, and I really like the air and everything about it," Kalye Johnson said. "I think it's cool -- very different."

Jason Roberts, of Better Blocks, said the program has temporarily transformed other Dallas neighborhoods as a demonstration of how the city can become more vibrant.

"At some point, we need to say, 'What can we do to one up the other cities around the world, 'because, we're just as good. We have the resources. We have the people. But let's make a great city, together."

Some City Council members said City Hall Plaza could be a future expansion location for mobile food vendors. The council on Wednesday approved a change in city codes to allow mobile food vendor trucks in the Dallas Arts District.

"It's working today," Brown said. "It seems like people like it. And I think that's how we get the conversation moving in the direction that creates momentum for more permanent change."

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