By 2009, a $20 million urban delight called Main Street Garden – will bloom from the downtown city block that stretches in front of the old Dallas City Hall, future home of the proposed UNT College of Law. The park is expected to be completed in October, 2009.
The spectacular new park will feature plenty of greenery, a dog run, performance stage, a fountain, and a toddler area. Downtown boosters expect that students, office workers, Dallas tourists and families will take over this slice of Dallas.
Main Street Garden will be bounded by Main, Harwood, Commerce and St. Paul Streets. The park will be a perfect “commons” type gathering spot for students, staff, and faculty at the Universities Center at Dallas and the proposed UNT College of Law.
That College would be housed in Old Dallas City Hall, built in the early 1900s from Texas gray granite. This beaux-arts building was the home of City Hall for decades, and more notoriously, continuous with the Annex building where Jack Ruby assasinated Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement garage. It now houses the Dallas municipal court.
At the west end of the park is the Mercantlie Bank, built in the 1940s – once the tallest building in Texas. It’s now being rehabbed by Forest City Enterprises, which is converting it into apartments and retail space.
To the north of the park is the Universities Center at Dallas, flanked by the 1900 Elm St. Lofts, former home of the Titche-Goettinger department store, and Conrad Hilton’s first high-rise hotel, now the Hotel Indigo Dallas.
The view from the park to the south is of the Grand Hotel, built in the 1950s and notable for its innovative construction using cantilevered slabs instead of pillars for structural support.
Adding to the attraction of the park center is the UNT System Downtown Master Plan, a comprehensive concept that includes education in the arts, economic development, technology and the UNT College of Law. This plan won the Dream Study Award category of the Urban Design Awards for presenting a plan that exhibits a positive urban design vision.
The plan was lauded for the academic and administrative concepts developed because of the strong collaboration between the UNT System and the City of Dallas.