The political and real estate worlds of Dallas were rocked today with the news that tireless advocate of neighborhoods and preservation of Dallas’ architectural history Neil Emmons apparently passed away in his sleep overnight. He was 45.
Robert Wilonksy reported in the Dallas Morning News that Emmons, who has been serving as a City Plan Commissioner, was found dead by his mother this morning. As city officials and others who have worked closely with Emmons in his 15-plus years serving the city learned the news, their reactions were overwhelmingly of shock.
“We did not always agree, but I always knew Neil was up for the fight. I learned a lot from you over the years, and I am sad that our hidden notes at the horseshoe will not continue. You will be missed greatly my friend,” said councilman Adam McGough on Facebook.
Councilman Philip Kingston also took to Facebook to eulogize Emmons, saying, “No single person in Dallas has done more to affect land use in recent history, and the changes he fought for were overwhelmingly positive. His philosophy was always to side with the neighbor and the neighborhood because doing so produced the best result for the city.
The result? Billions of dollars of economic development that may not have happened without his input and probably would have looked like crap if it did happen. It is not an exaggeration to say that Uptown, Turtle Creek, Oak Lawn, Lower Greenville, and Downtown owe much of their success to Neil Emmons.”
“I don’t think most of the city knows how sad a day this is for Dallas,” Kingston concluded.
In February, our Leah Shafer wrote about the historic Mayrath House and the formation of Dallas Endowment for Endangered Properties (DEEP) by Emmons and three other preservationists.Four preservationists, Virginia McAlester, Jim Rogers, Lisa Marie Gala, and Neil Emmons, together founded the Dallas Endowment for Endangered Properties (DEEP) fund last month. Joanna England wrote more in-depth about DEEP, which would be a fund to buy up endangered historic properties to save them from the wrecking ball.
Emmons served several terms on the City Plan Commission, starting in 2001 when he was appointed by then-councilwoman Veletta Lill. He served from 2001 until he left in 2009 due to term limits, and then was appointed again in 2014.