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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
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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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
(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:
1600 Pacific
1025 Elm
1401 Elm
1505 Elm
Continental/Mercantile buildings
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
Sheraton Dallas Hotel
Fairmont Hotel
Marriott Dallas City Center
Hotel Indigo
Crowne Plaza DallasDowntown
One Main Place
Republic Center
Cancer Survivors Plaza
Thanks-Giving Square
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:
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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