Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Grand Hotel, aka the Statler Hilton, much like its nearby neighbor the Mercantile has been one of those on-again/off-again redevelopments, that promises so much but has yet to deliver. With the creation of the Main Street Garden Park, it is now situated as one of the most prominent buildings in the entire city, fitting for its history, and stately mid-century modern hi-rise aesthetic.
Despite its amazing interiors (do yourself a favor and click this link for a great photo-tour), no developer has yet to, as they say, "make the numbers work." Aside from the typical renovation/mitigation costs, the other primary difficulty is its short floor-to-floor heights, atypical for contemporary development.
Without any tenants, the City of Dallas put forth a competition with a very narrow budget, in order to provide, or at least suggest, some sense of life rather than a dead building sit on its new park. When talking to a colleague and friend shortly after the competition was announced, he joked that it should reenact the christmas party scene from home alone with mannequins participating in the festivities in the windows as actual party-goers.
I loved the playful irony of it. It's a dead building. Everyone knows it is a dead building. Why run from it? The joke of it would generate far more interest than playing pretend.
The winning entry that has since been executed with backlit yellow paper lining the lower level windows and three uplights on the tower facade.
Frankly, I still prefer the playful entry (that was never submitted beyond jovial idea spitballing).