08/29/16 5:31am

GetMedia

Estate is a word we don’t toss around lightly. It conjures up those venerable English country homes that stand for centuries and are passed on from generation to generation. So when we tell you this is a Preston Hollow estate— it’s exactly that. And any Brit who’s inherited a stately pile, as they call it, would be green with envy over this classic European three story, 12,976-square-foot estate at 5414 Falls Road. It has all the privacy and beauty of any bucolic mansion with the benefit of a perfectly placed location, minutes from the best private schools as well as the Dallas Arts District via tollway.

It also has none of the issues that are part and parcel of those inherited halls, chateaux and manor houses.

“It’s built like a commercial office building,” listing agent Molly Malone with Dave Perry Miller & Associates, said. “The overall quality of construction and finish is impeccable. It’s one of the best built houses I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in real estate over 30 years.”
GetMedia-2

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08/28/16 11:45pm

CD Fair Park 224

Preservation Dallas sent out a press release tonight that references our Thursday evening panel discussion, the one that “forces” tried to deter. The press release is an inaccurate misrepresentation of that panel discussion. (Press release posted in entirety, see below.) Thankfully, we video-taped and live streamed the whole event, so readers can see and hear and decide for themselves.

I know that many people, from Preservation Dallas to Jennifer Gates, thought the panel was one-sided because we did not invite the “other side” to participate in the panel. Maybe I should have. I also know the timing was crappy because of the budget meetings a lot of Council members were having that very night. (John Jenkins couldn’t be on the panel for that reason.) But then, the City Council’s special agenda is Monday (tomorrow) at 1 p.m. I was out of town until last Monday. Thursday was the only night and the space at the original venue was limited so, I thought, let’s video this and do another panel with the “other side.”

Which I would still love to do.

But then, I thought, what is wrong with just getting information out? What is wrong with listening to other points of view even if it is “one side”? I billed this as a panel discussion, not a debate. The Mayor, like the President, has a huge bully pulpit and the “other side” has had tons of press.

I love the good folks at Preservation Dallas, and I adore Virginia McAlestar. Our historic district would not be here if it wasn’t for her. Dallas is not just lucky to have her, we owe her a lot.

With all due respect and much love, this release is taking some of the discussion from Thursday out of context.

Here’s the deal: most preservationists hate developers… and for good reason. Sometimes, quite frankly, they are idiots with no foresight or economic inclusivity. I mean, look at what developers did to State Thomas.

There is a huge fear that Don Williams, a lawyer who actually worked for one of the largest developers in the world, is going to get all land grubby with Fair Park.

In fact,  a comment about land grabbing was made after our panel, by someone in the audience. The huge fear is that the entire Fair Park deal is one big rush to buy land cheap and flip it when the area gets as hot as State Thomas or Uptown.

The only entity buying real estate around Fair Park has been the State Fair of Texas.

And then I think there is the fear that someone will touch those buildings, the National Historic landmarks, the Art Deco goddesses that are, according to mayor Rawlings, the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the U.S.

There was no talk of that Thursday night. Touch those buildings over my dead body. (more…)

08/28/16 8:06pm
One of the many natural areas at Fair Park Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

One of the many natural areas at Fair Park Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

The drama, intrigue, calls for transparency and social media campaigns are escalating this weekend. For something I knew very little about until the Candy’sDirt #DecisionFairPark meeting on Thursday, it seems like I’m now becoming a source. As I said in my post about giving Walt Humann a Chance, I hadn’t seen any of the documents related to this.

Today the Friends of Fair Park were kind enough to post links to what is being discussed tomorrow at City Hall. We are passing these along – here are The Fair Park Texas Foundation Preliminary Budget, Agenda, and Proposed Management Agreement With Fair Park Texas Foundation.

I haven’t had a chance to read them yet – Candy wanted to be sure that I shared these with our readers first.

Hope to see you tomorrow at City Hall – I’ll be the one with the State Fair of Texas Tshirt on!

People have asked about the details if you would like to come and experience this in person (also provided by Friends of Fair Park):

WHEN
Monday, August 29, 2016
1 p.m.
(Please allow plenty of time to park, walk, and pass through the main security entrance on City Hall’s north side)

WHERE
Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla, 75201 | Map: goo.gl/maps/ZuiGWQ5Zo8t
Enter the main entrance on the north side of Dallas City Hall. This entrance is closest to the large, round reflecting pool with its two, red floating sculptures.

PARK
Metered parking is available in the lot immediately south of City Hall. It is also available along Young and Browder Streets on the north and east sides of City Hall. Additional paid parking lots can be found south of City Hall.

08/28/16 6:58pm
tumblr_nl3cczJFG91rwu8obo1_1280

Charles Verlat (1824-1890) – Fox at the Henhouse, oil on panel

 Candysdirt.com is breaking down the most recent Fair Park Management Agreement.  Remember, there is a special City Council meeting on this agreement tomorrow at 1 p.m. Click here, here and here for parts 1, 2, and 3.

Part IV subtitle: Are We Giving the Fox the Supra Keys to the Henhouse?

To refresh your memory, to aid in separating language taken directly from the 12-page slim contract and my interpretations, I’ve left the original language as is.  Sections where I note where “articles” and “sections” (major and minor buckets) have been left out of the shortened contract, I’ve tried to summarize their contents.  Long and/or complex paragraphs I have inserted “returns” to break them into more easily digestible chunks, their wording is unchanged.   My opinions are underlined from here on …

As I’ve said, the most recent contract has a few things missing from earlier versions …

Whole ARTICLES and their subsections removed from the latest public version:  Most of these subjects are non-controversial and fairly standards in contracts.  I’ve noted anything I thought unusual (Article IX).

ARTICLE V, UTILITIES, TAXES, INSURANCE, AND INDEMNIFICATION. (The City pays for utilities at reduced rates and bills the Foundation. Foundation responsible for tax payments and insurance. Foundation hold City blameless in lawsuits and liabilities. The City can join in any legal action if it desires.)

ARTICLE VII, REVENUE OPPORTUNITIES (Renting facilities, selling naming rights, concessions, etc.)

ARTICLE VIII, OTHER CITY SUPPORT. (City must maintain roads into Fair Park and City gives responsibility for security to the Foundation.)

ARTICLE IX, FINANCIAL REPORTS, ENTITY STATUS, AND TRANSPARENCY.

Foundation required to provide to the City quarterly and annual financial statements along with the (opaque) IRS Form 990 (the same form the State Fair uses). The Foundation is subject to the Texas Public Information Act (similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act). But this is NOT enough. On August 2, 2016, the State Fair of Texas, setup as a similar non-profit, successfully overturned a lower court ruling that would have forced them to release additional financial information. This contract between the City and the Fair Park Foundation must specifically grant public access to ALL financial information for fear the Texas Public Information Act is not enough. (more…)

08/28/16 6:38pm

 Fair Park Ferris Wheel SM

If you’ve just joined, bless you. I’m dissecting the most recent, slimmed-down contract for the public/private mega buck partnership Dallas is considering to hand over Fair Park. We are publishing this mega post because there is a special City Council briefing Monday at 1:00 pm to dissect. Check out parts 1 and 2 here and here.

Part III could be titled: “One Year to Park Conceptualization”.

As a reminder, to aid in separating language taken directly from the 12-page slim contract and my interpretations, I’ve left the original language as is.  Sections where I note where “articles” and “sections” (major and minor buckets) have been left out of the shortened contract, I’ve tried to summarize their contents.  Long and/or complex paragraphs I have inserted “returns” to break them into more easily digestible chunks, their wording is unchanged.   My opinions are underlined from here on …

ARTICLE VI

MAINTENANCE, ALTERATIONS, AND CONSTRUCTION

Section  6.16 Community Park.   During year one (1) of the Term of this Agreement, the Foundation shall undertake conceptual designs for a signature community park to be located within Fair Park in the vicinity of Robert B. Cullum Boulevard, Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Grand Avenue, and Second Avenue, as shown on Exhibit 6.16, to be open to the public free of charge so as to allow the surrounding neighborhood year-round access to green space, a children’s play area, and recreational opportunities.

Pursuant to Section 6.05(a), the Foundation shall obtain the approval of the Director prior to the commencement of any construction of the community park.  Subject to any necessary consents or approvals, the community park referenced in this Section 6.16 shall remain open to the public free of charge on a year-round basis, including during the annual run of the State Fair of Texas.

The Foundation acknowledges that construction of this community park is the Park Board’s top priority.

The Foundation shall commence construction of the signature community park within twenty-four (24) months of funding becoming available pursuant to Section 3.03.

Conceptual designs for the Community Park (of undetermined size) are now due in year one.  The designs were previously due within 6-months.  Why the 6-month slip? In this version the Community Park’s construction has been guaranteed to begin within two years of funding becoming available.  The funding Section 3.03 refers to is the 2017 bond package. This seems to say that the first shovel of dirt moves in 2019. This may account for the year allowance to create the designs – no rush.  Just remember, no bond allocation, no park. However it’s better than their being “dependent on the ability to raise the necessary funding” in the last version with no timetable or funding source listed. (more…)

08/28/16 6:21pm

Costco Or how parts of this plan are like going to Costco. Continuing from Part 1, we pick up here with money and more.

As a reminder, to aid in separating language taken directly from the 12-page slim contract and my interpretations, I’ve left the original language as is.  Sections where I note where “articles” and “sections” (major and minor buckets) have been left out of the shortened contract, I’ve tried to summarize their contents.  Long and/or complex paragraphs I have inserted “returns” to break them into more easily digestible chunks, their wording is unchanged.   My opinions are underlined from here on …

ARTICLE III

MANAGEMENT FEE AND OTHER FISCAL MATTERS.

I’m not going to dissect this section because, believe it or not, the money isn’t the most important thing.

In situations like this, I’m not concerned about the money … $1 or $1 billion … I really don’t care.  What I care about is what I’m getting for the money, and was it efficiently spent. I ask you to feel the same.  The battle about this contract isn’t about the money, it’s ensuring that the City receives precisely what it wants by articulating those needs clearly and unambiguously within this contract. This contract is not precise.

For another example, Section 3.01 details the annual management fee the City is to pay the Foundation (call it $20 million a year).  How much more is that fee compared to what the City already pays to maintain Fair Park?  What will that difference get us?  We don’t know because it’s never been spelled out in any meeting I’ve sat in, nor any of the media coverage I’ve read. 

Section 3.03 talks about bond money.  The first proposed bond money would be part of 2017’s goodie bag.  If the bond is approved, it calls for $75 million for Fair Park but only requires $25 million be paid unless the Foundation can raise the additional $50 million through private fundraising (which likely equates to slapping corporate names on every bench and toilet seat). But again, what does the City get for that $75 million?  What does the City get for the additional $50 million in the 2020/2022 bond? We don’t know because the management agreement is just that.  It’s not a redevelopment plan

Apparently only after we transfer management and agree to decades of payments can a plan be developed (get a mortgage and then we’ll show you the house). How do we know if the allocated monies are enough to achieve our goals? (We’re surely not allocating too much).  We know in our gut that whatever redevelopment plan is ultimately selected, it will absolutely, positively go over budget … likely WAY over budget. We know this because even if there were a concrete redevelopment plan with costs applied to it, it would still go over budget.  Not having a redevelopment plan before budgeting only ensures it will go even further over budget. It’s like going to Costco with $20 in cash and no shopping list. You wind up at checkout with a boxcar full of stuff and pull out the credit card to pay later. (more…)

08/28/16 4:22pm
One of the many natural areas at Fair Park Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

One of the many natural areas at Fair Park Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Every news outlet I’m aware of has cast doubt on the process and contents of the City’s proposed management contract to outsource Fair Park’s future to a non-profit entity.

Many people have said that we should give 78-year-old Walt Humann and his plan a chance. Let’s say that is fine. But let’s also understand that this is a 20-year contract with two 5-year extensions. Only one group of the people and their good intentions will be around to see this contract’s completion … the people of Dallas.  Everyone else will be dead, retired or in another role. How many times will the Fair Park Foundation board staff turnover during the next 30 years?  How many mayors, City Councilors, and Parks Board members will cycle through the system in 30 years?

This contract is the only mechanism that crystalizes and protects the interests of the people of Dallas for the 30-year term of this contract. It’s our pre-nup. It’s why it has to be encompassing AND specific. It’s the future’s rule book.

Here’s my look, page by page, on where I think the problems lay. It’s pretty long, so we have broken up one loooong post into four. I’ll start first by asking how did the Management Contract between the City and the Fair Park Foundation, over 100 pages in its last iteration before the Parks Board vote, slim down to just a dozen pages?

A lot got left out.

Whether this new version only represents those sections that have been significantly modified since the Parks Board Approval or if the deletion of certain sections is simply obfuscation, I cannot say.  But a contract without terms, which this version doesn’t have, is not a contract. In making this 12-page document available to the public without explanation is confusing. For example, a search for “State Fair” in the new document nets one result stating that the community park will be open during State Fair.

To aid in separating language taken directly from the 12-page slim contract and my interpretations, I’ve left the original language as is.  Sections where I note where “articles” and “sections” (major and minor buckets) have been left out of the shortened contract, I’ve tried to summarize their contents.  Long and/or complex paragraphs I have inserted “returns” to break them into more easily digestible chunks, their wording is unchanged.   My opinions are underlined (some may be in italics) from here on … (more…)

08/27/16 4:12pm

Fort worth Symphony

Rare gift at any time of life is to find a new friend. Rarer still, in mid-life, is to find a friend like Maestro Miguel Harth-Bedoya, with whom one connects at many points. Admirer of friends past, like the late great artistic director of the Dallas Opera, Nicola Rescigno, conductor of many of Maria Callas’ finest recital recordings and Valery Gergiev, possibly the greatest living conductor, whom I was fortunate to meet on his first New York, Kirov tour in 1992,  and for whom Harth-Bedoya was assistant conductor.

The Fort Worth Symphony has to share the energetic, Peruvian born, Julliard educated, music director with Oslo, where he is chief conductor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, and, well, the rest of the world’s music capitals. Harth-Bedoya also holds a position as Distinguished Guest Professor of Conducting at Texas Christian University.

Spirited and sentimental dinner prattle last week led to a generous invite to the opening of the Fort Worth Symphony season. And if you wonder why our real estate in Fort Worth is so audacious, well, just get yourself a seat at one of our symphonies.

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