DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A City Council committee formally recommended giving a private developer up to $16 million in property tax money to go toward renovating the Statler Hilton on the eastern edge of downtown during a meeting Monday.
The city sees it as a no-lose situation: If the large Commerce Street landmark remains empty and ownerless, it will continue to be an eyesore and fail to generate any tax revenue.
And, it’s the final piece of development around Main Street Garden, an area already changing attitudes of people who are simply visiting downtown.
“I came to the park and saw a bag and had my gloves on me so I thought I’d straighten up here,” said Lucas Ewing, a Garland resident visiting a friend downtown.
Ewing was so taken with the area that he spontaneously decided to clean up its park.
“I really like the architectural flow … I mean, it’s probably always been like this but the way I’m viewing it now I think it’s a really beautiful place,” he said.
A revived Statler Hilton will only enhance that perception. A hospitality marvel when it opened in 1956, the Grande Dame nearly faced the wrecker’s ball a decade ago.
But with a new owner wanting to restore it and the old library next door, a council committee sent a recommendation to forgive up to $16 million in future taxes to help the developer along.
The vision: A mixed-use development of shops, offices, and more.
“I know there are discussions with a couple of hoteliers with regard to partial use of the building, ground floor retail and then some condominiums on the top floor,” said Ron Natinsky, chairman of the council’s economic development committee.
Ten years ago it seemed unthinkable this area would be a magnet for urban living and entertainment. But a downtown consultant said the pieces are in place.
“Whether it’s related to commercial or quality of life or parks or entertainment, all these things are happening we’re not there yet,” said John Crawford, president of consulting firm Downtown Dallas Inc. “But I can assure you compared to ten years ago we’re way down the road.”
The issue passed out of committee unanimously. The full council is set to vote on it June 22.