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Goodbye And Hello To Sundance Square

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Say goodbye to Sundance Square in Fort Worth as you know it. The Sundance Square Central Plaza Project will give the area a major facelift.

What is now parking in the center of the square will become a plaza with a permanent stage framed by two renovated buildings and three new ones.

“It’s going to be a significant change in the core of our downtown and it will provide an event space I think will be used almost every weekend and all year long,” said City Council member Joel Burns, who represents the area.

It’s a $110 million public/ private development.  The project would remove the back part of what is now The Flying Saucer pub and leave the remaining historical structure, which was built in the 1890’s. Two new buildings would then span the the block from Third to Fourth Streets on the east and west sides of where the parking lots are now. A third building would be constructed on Third Street from Houston to Throckmorton.  And in the middle, a developed plaza complete with gathering area and stage.  When presenting designs for the project, photos of Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland were used as an example of what the area might look like.

But when we showed people downtown plans for the new plaza, the first thing they commented on was what’s missing from the design.

“This was our parking area!” exclaimed Rachel Foster, who often visits downtown. “This was where we parked!”

“I’m wondering where they’re going to park all the people who come downtown on the weekends,” said Cat Bardin, whose mother often drives downtown to visit Bass Hall.

Sundance Square management says they’ll lose 180 visitor parking spots in the project. But a plaza in that space has been the plan for decades. So, managers say years ago they overbuilt parking garages. Now, they have 5,400 parking spots in garages. The problem is, even with the big signs, many visitors don’t know where all the garages are.

“And that’s something our logos and all of our maps and all of our publicity continues to try to help folks to understand,” said Sundance Square President and CEO Johnny Campbell.

And when parking is not an issue, people can see what the developers of the Central Plaza Project were trying to achieve.

“I think it’ll be good for downtown,” said Candice Van Wade. “It’ll be a nice fit.”

Click here to see the city’s proposal, including maps.

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