‘Full Steam Ahead' on Downtown Parks After Bond Vote

A Dallas philanthropist is ready to move "full steam ahead" on building four new downtown parks after city voters approved a $1.05 billion bond package earlier this month.Robert Decherd, the former chairman of Dallas Morning News' parent company A.H. Belo Corporation, said in a meeting with The News' editorial board that all the parks should be completed within a few years. But, he said, some roadblocks stand in the way of the park he had initially wanted to complete first. Carpenter Park is in "a holding pattern" because of a mess of city streets and Dallas Area Rapid Transit plans, Decherd said.Decherd has quietly made headway on the other parks beyond the approval of the $35 million taxpayer matching funds in the $262 million bond proposition. In September, he acquired a parking lot to build a park in the West End. He said his foundation is also making steady progress on plans to build Pacific Plaza at another city-owned surface parking lot on downtown's east side.Pacific Plaza was not part of the bond package. Decherd had initially pushed last year for the park to be included, but offered to pay the full cost after a political battle with a private group that wanted to take control of the Pacific Plaza land and build an underground parking garage topped by a park.The decision moved Pacific Plaza ahead of Carpenter Park in the queue.The three other parks -- Harwood Park, the West End park and Carpenter -- will be built with public and private money. The Decherd Foundation and Decherd's Parks for Downtown Dallas have collectively assembled $46.7 million in assets, including the West End land and land that will become Harwood Park.In the best case scenario, Pacific Plaza will be finished in late 2019 and open in early 2020, Decherd said. The others will depend on when the city wants to start.  Continue reading...

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