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Tunnels and Sky Bridges Network Task Force Final Report and Recommendations FINAL

Tunnels and Sky Bridges Network Task Force Final Report and Recommendations FINAL

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Published by Robert Wilonsky

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Published by: Robert Wilonsky on Apr 27, 2012
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07/10/2013

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Downtown Dallas, Inc. Tunnels and Sky Bridges Network Task ForceFinal Report and RecommendationsMission
Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) charged this task force with evaluating one of therecommendations in the Downtown 360 plan:
 
UD 5:
Develop a plan to phase out retail or restaurant uses from underground tunnelsThe work of this task force involved determining:
Existing uses of the tunnels and sky bridges network
The degree to which retail establishments under office buildings rely on pedestriantraffic in the network
The extent to which portions of the network are being closed due to decisions of privateproperty owners
Which uses are in space owned by the city of Dallas
What contractual relationships that may exist between retail and restaurant owners andeither building owners or the city
Findings of Fact
The recommendation of the Vincent Ponte 1969 study to create a tunnel system wasbased on the perceived need to separate vehicular traffic from pedestrians to make iteasier to enter and exit Downtown. This was a common urban planning principal duringthat time, but now is largely abhorred by urban planners.
Weather extremes were not a consideration in the Ponte recommendations.
The network by its very nature is secure and mostly inaccessible to the street. It isaccessed internally almost exclusively through several office buildings. Therefore retail
2200 Ross AvenueSuite 4600EDallas, TX 75201p. 214.744.1270f. 214.744.1986
 
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(mostly fast food) in the network tends to operate only during business hours, generallylimited to from 10 am to 3 pm on business days and closed all other times includingevenings, weekends and holidays.
The network is disjointed and inconsistent with the street system and only lends itself toad hoc trips rather than providing a consistent pathway that is helpful to civic interaction.
There has been minimum or no new retail development in the last 15 years in the tunnelsystem, only replacement of existing retail.
The network was conceived when there was virtually no downtown residentialdevelopment and is incompatible with a residential community because it is mostlyclosed and sealed up during non-business hours.
A surge of retail development at street level has negated the need to use the tunnelsystem.
Many portions of the tunnel system have been discontinued by decision of privateproperty owners, including:
o
1600 Pacific
o
1025 Elm
o
1401 Elm
o
1505 Elm
o
Continental/Mercantile buildings
o
Corrigan Tower/Tower Petroleum buildings
The remaining buildings and facilities connected to the tunnels and sky bridges systemincludes:
Office Buildings
 
 
Comerica Tower
 
Chase Tower
 
1700 Pacific
 
Bank of America Plaza
 
Renaissance Tower
 
Fountain Place
 
Plaza of the Americas
 
Bryan Tower
 
KPMG Centre
 
Patriot Tower
 
Energy Plaza
 
Lincoln Plaza
Residential Buildings
 
 
Davis Building
 
Gables Republic
 
Titche-Goettinger Building
Hotels
 
 
Sheraton Dallas Hotel
 
Fairmont Hotel
 
Marriott Dallas City Center
 
Hotel Indigo
 
Crowne Plaza DallasDowntown
 
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One Main Place
 
Republic Center
Parks
 
 
Cancer Survivors Plaza
 
Thanks-Giving Square
Other
 
 
First Baptist Church
 
Universities Center at Dallas
 
Majestic Garage
 
Elm Street Garage
 
Metropolitan Garage
With the exception of the Bullington Truck Terminal, which is owned by the city ofDallas, most of the remaining tunnels and sky bridges, including those under city right-of-way, are owned fee simple by private property owners.
The city leases four spaces for retail use in the Bullington Truck Terminal. All other retailestablishments are in privately-owned space.
The tunnels and sky bridges are not a homogeneous system. Each was developed byprivate property owners to meet the needs of their office building tenants, includingconnecting to parking garages. As a result, they vary from location to location in termsof:
o
Width
o
Lighting
o
Decoration
o
Wayfinding
o
Maintenance
Conclusions
Although the tunnels and sky bridges are not desirable in terms of street-level activationand urban design, they do exist and, in the perception of some property owners andoffice tenants, serve a purpose.
Due to the dominance of privately owned property, any attempt to regulate below streetlevel retail out of existence would be a significant infringement on private propertyrights.
One of Downtown’s competitive advantages over the suburbs is an active street lifewhere office tenants can walk to restaurants and stores without having to drive theircars. Another is its mix of residents, workers, hotel guests, conventioneers, and retailand restaurant customers that make Downtown a 24/7 activity zone. The tunnels andsky bridges network does not contribute to this dynamic and attractive street life.

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