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New Developer Could End Dallas Sunlight Fight

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - There could soon be some movement in the stalemate over two Dallas landmarks. The Nasher Sculpture Center and the new Museum Tower have been at odds for months over sunlight. Nasher Sculpture Center officials said that the glare from the Museum Tower’s windows is damaging exhibits that were never designed to receive such intense direct light.

Late afternoon sunlight being reflected from the tower’s windows is able to defeat the sculpture center’s filtered light devices indoors, and intensifies summer heat on the garden’s grass and bushes. The sculpture center has tried to move some of their exhibits to accomodate changing light patterns, but some pieces are just too large to move.

The Nasher Sculpture Center — building, design and contents — was donated by the late Patsy and Raymond Nasher. The Museum Tower also has a public pedigree, as it is owned by the Dallas Police & Fire Pension system. The two sides attempted to negotiate on a solution late last year, but talks fell apart.

Dallas restaurateur and frozen margarita creator Mariano Martinez said that Nasher was a mentor of his, and he is not sure how the problem could be resolved. “The impression I’m seeing is glaring in my eyes,” he said while walking through the outdoor garden with CBS 11 News. “How do you fix something that’s reflecting on and burning grass and trees?”

Now comes word that Dallas developer Jack Matthews wants to buy Museum Tower. Matthews has been described as a civic-minded developer. The sculpture center’s officials are optimistic that a sale to him could bring along a solution. “Mr. Matthews has demonstrated time and again that he is a thoughtful, civic-minded developer committed to our community,” said Jeremy Strick, director of the Nasher Sculpture Center. “We would welcome the opportunity to work with a willing partner to resolve the problem quickly and effectively.”

Matthews developed the city-owned Omni Hotel and donated land for the Dallas Police Department headquarters.

Martinez is not sure that simply changing owners would magically fix the issue. “That would depend on who the new owner is and what solution he might have,” Martinez said. “What would another owner do with the same building? The problem is inherent to the building, is it not?”

Sculpture center visitors agree that something must be done. “People are here for the experience, to walk through the garden,” said Andrew Smith of Dallas. “It’s a public space, and if nobody’s willing to budge on that for the impulse of money, it’s ridiculous. You’re ruining other people’s chances to come out and enjoy the garden here.”

“I think that it is indeed damaging to the center, and I think they have to find a solution. The two parties are going to have to work together,” patron Jamie Bernstein said. “This is too much of a treasure to allow it to be damaged.”

Any possible sale of the Museum Tower is nowhere close to being complete. CBS 11 News has been unable to reach Museum Tower or Matthews for an official comment.

“We don’t have another sculpture garden in Dallas, many cities don’t have a sculpture garden,” said Bernstein. “We are extremely fortunate to have this gift from Raymond and Patsy Nasher.”

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