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Member Since 04 Apr 2004
Offline Last Active Aug 31 2017 05:49 AM

#105350 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 31 August 2017 - 05:47 AM

I can't speak for Doohickie, but I'm sure the implication isn't that the idea is wrong, just that the tagline is used with every...single...new...development.


As long as they aren't describing it as "awesome."  That word was so overused a few years ago that I groaned anytime I heard someone use it - and I was hearing people use it constantly.


How about "Vegetate. Innovate. Recreate"?  And for good measure we could add "procreate."  That would spice things up a bit - and perhaps help increase demand for the units with extra bedrooms.  .

#105102 SBC/AT&T Building

Posted by Dismuke on 20 August 2017 - 12:54 PM

As a follow up:  I just followed a link on the link I just provided and found this page about the Dallas phone exchange building - with interesting information and multiple photos of its tower




The same site shows other central offices in other Texas cities.  Observe the trend - the ones that were built in the 1930s and before are usually very attractive. The ones built after that tend to be butt ugly.  (The old Pershing Exchange in Fort Worth's West Side is a very attractive building apart from the modern elements that have been added to it).  



#105101 SBC/AT&T Building

Posted by Dismuke on 20 August 2017 - 12:46 PM

I am guessing that this building serves as a local hub for the switching and the mechanical processes of their business; and is a result of a time when rotary phones were the thing of the day. I am guessing that a hub such as this one would not be located here given today's technology.



That building actually dates back to well before rotary phones and to the days when one had to call up a live operator who would patch through the call.  If you were calling a different exchange the operator in your local exchange would have to patch it through to the other exchange.


Long distance calls were also very complex in those days.  Basically the call had to be patched through multiple offices in order to reach its final destination. Telephone offices actually had people on staff that would determine the most appropriate route to patch a call through.


So, for example, if you were to place a long distance call from Fort Worth to San Francisco (which would not have even been possible for a number of years during the building's early history) it might have been patched through to the phone office in El Paso which would have patched it though to the office in Phoenix and from there to Los Angeles and from there to San Francisco where an operator would have put the call through to the local number.  This process could take twenty minutes or longer.   So the person who originated the call would usually hang up and the operator would call back once the party on the other end had been successfully reached.   You will sometimes catch a glimpse of this process in old movies from the 1930s -  you will see an important business person being notified that "your call to San Francisco is on line."


As you can imagine, long distance phone calls were extremely expensive for many years and something used only for important business or extreme emergencies.


I remember as recently as the 1980s certain areas of the Metroplex did not yet have direct dial calls to the UK -  and I remember having to call an operator to put one through to my British grandparents.


As for the old phone exchange buildings - my understanding is that they are still very much useful.  If one has AT&T U Verse all of that is routed through the old phone exchange buildings.  And I strongly suspect important parts of the Internet are probably located in such buildings.  Given today's technology, however, I wonder if they need as much space as they once did.   At some point the old pre-Internet LAN lines are going to have to go away as it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a network that has fewer and fewer subscribers - so I would think that would further minimize their space requirements.


Here is an article that describes a bit of the background as to what those towers on the Fort Worth and Dallas phone buildings were used for http://www.drgibson.com/towers/  


That microwave relay technology was actually what was responsible for the eventual demise of the AT&T's phone monopoly.  MCI stood for Microwave Communications Incorporated which built its own network of microwave relay towers.  Key FCC rulings made it legal for outside networks to be connected to AT&T's local phone systems - something which AT&T fought for years.  I remember some people I knew having this really odd but nifty service called MCI -  they would dial a certain phone number and then dial in their account number and the number of the person they wished to call and the call would be completed at rates lower than what AT&T charged.   A couple or so years later an anti-trust suit broke up the AT&T monopoly and made such dial around unnecessary.

#105097 SBC/AT&T Building

Posted by Dismuke on 20 August 2017 - 11:30 AM

Yeah this is definitely Soviet Block style architecture at it's worst. Lol


Yes.  That tower box is where Big Brother's big sister Ma Bell would sit and eavesdrop on and record our phone calls.  They don't need the tower anymore because Ma's getting up in years and they were able to outsource the job to the NSA.  


And the designer of the building, while trained in Moscow, was actually North Korean.  The massive windowless wall was originally put there on the premise that it would hold a giant poster of our Dear Leader.   But, as it turned out, Big Brother is camera shy and does not allow himself to be photographed.

#104846 Museum Place

Posted by Dismuke on 12 August 2017 - 04:04 PM

This week I did a Google search for images of the Kimbell sculpture and courtyard mentioned in the articles.


I now understand and even appreciate to a point where the Kimbell is coming from.  I can see how a tall building would detract from the room as it currently exists and spoil an aspect of it that some  may regard as special.  I will even go so far as to say it would be sad.  So the Kimbell certainly has my empathy on this - but they still don't have my support in terms of stopping the hotel.


I also enjoy the views of downtown offered by the cultural district - and, yes, a tall building in the near distance would spoil that view and would be something I would regard as sad. But I don't support them on that either.


The problem is if all the many differences between people's preferences and desires that inevitably emerge were settled on an ad hoc basis by emotion and sentiment, the world would quickly become a much more brutal place.


The fundamental question here is:  if you own a piece of real estate, what sort of obligations does that impose on other people - and is protecting a view one of them?   I consider the premise that there exists a right to a non-contractually agreed upon "protected view" to be highly dubious.


Unless one is out in the middle of nowhere with a large tract of land, it is impossible to put up a building without blocking somebody's view of something.


When I was a child the backyards on my parents' side of the street in the suburban tract home development we lived in overlooked a horse pasture, the surviving remnant of an old farm.  We loved that view - and were saddened when eventually bulldozers came in and the pasture was filled with tract houses and the view from our back windows became that of the backside of a couple of ugly houses. 


Think of how absurd it would have been for us to make some public demand that the owner of the land forever do nothing with it because it would destroy our backyard view.  And, of course, some years earlier, the construction of my parent's subdivision certainly ruined the view that older houses on the opposite side of that pasture once had. So on what ground would preserving the view from my parent's subdivision be regarded as valid but preserving the view destroyed when that subdivision was built was somehow not valid?


Of course, one difference between the residents in my parents' subdivision and the Kimbell is that, unlike the Kimbell, the residents did not have connections and the support of prominent and influential people and no media outlet would have even considered running articles to air their concerns.  In the same way, it is apparently acceptable to destroy serene countryside views with a sea of giant wind turbines in "flyover country" in the name of "green energy" but not ok to build them off the coast of Massachusetts and destroy the seaside views enjoyed by the wealthy and politically powerful.


So let's acknowledge from the get-go that, given opinions over what sort of view is considered special and worthy of protection is largely a matter of personal preference (some people couldn't care less about art and others think skylines are an ugly blight on nature) getting a particular view protected is more a matter of having the right political connections than it is about the veracity of one's case.  Again, pretty much every building blocks somebody's view of something.


Back in the early days of Fort Worth the view from downtown of what is now the Cultural District would have been that of rolling hills covered with native prairie grasses - which my guess is must have been beautiful.  Should Fort Worth have been forever stunted from expanding to the west in order to protect that view?


For a number of years the clock tower of the Tarrant County Courthouse was visible from all parts of town.  It is an impressive building and I am sure that it was the focal point from many vantages that made for a number of special views - views that were later destroyed when the downtown skyscrapers started being erected.  Should Fort Worth have forever banned skyscrapers in order to protect the multiple views of the courthouse that people may have enjoyed - the same skyscrapers that views of which the museums are now saying must be protected?


One of the things that stands out when one visits a remote rural area is the nighttime sky - there are so many stars and one can see the Milky Way. It is spectacular.  Here in Fort Worth most of that is invisible at night because the lights that enable us to be safe and continue on with our lives after sunset have blocked out that view.  And if you travel by road a certain distance beyond of the Metroplex at night and look back a significant portion of the sky in that direction consists of an ugly glow that contrasts with the natural darkness in the opposite direction.  Clearly you and I are, by virtue of going about our lives after dark, destroying views that people find special - views of the stars and views of the natural nighttime horizon.  Should we, therefore, ban all artificial outside lighting at night and mandate special curtains to prevent interior lighting from escaping so that people can enjoy the same nighttime sky that our distant ancestors who rarely lived past age 35 once saw?


One what basis are the museum's demands for the protection of a specific view somehow more valid than similar demands in the examples I provided? 


What such demands essentially ask for is that some aspect of the world be allowed to remain forever static when, in fact, the world around us is constantly changing.  I understand why people have such a desire - sometimes changes come along that we do not like.


There have been trends in architecture, popular music, in fashion and personal appearance that I do not care for at all but am constantly exposed to. Do I have a right to stop it?  Plenty of people who live in small towns hate it when the nearby city expands and new residents and developers come in forever changing and even destroying the small town/rural life they loved. Do they have a right to stop them?  Some people do not like it when large numbers of people from different demographic backgrounds or who speak a different language move to a particular neighborhood in large numbers forever altering for existing residents the feel and culture of that part of town. But by what right do they have to stop them?


Our personal preferences and our passions - however strong they may be - do not give us a right to demand that the rest of the world remain static and that other people's lives stand still. That is essentially what the museums are asking for.

#104689 Museum Place

Posted by Dismuke on 05 August 2017 - 03:12 PM


If I were the property owner and this proposal somehow gets derailed, I would divert all of the resources I could muster to cover that plot with a Chicken Express, a CVS, and a drive through bank.  Talk about sticking up an architectural middle finger.


Yep.  My sentiments too. Except I would put in a Dollar General - with a big parking lot complete with oil stains and tacky looking light poles that emit a harsh florescent glow at night.  And I would hang strings of multi-colored shiny foil triangular flags running between the building and the furthest light pole. And along the perimeter of the parking lot nearest the street I would have portable stand up signs advertising lotto tickets and cheap generic cigarettes.  And maybe I could get the T to install an extra large bus stop shelter along the sidewalk  - one that could offer temporary refuge for homeless people and others caught outdoors during a downpour (we do want to be compassionate to the less fortunate, don't we?).  And my guess is the Dollar General would actually do a brisk business both from the surrounding neighborhood and from visitors of the museum.


I am all for people having good taste and high aesthetic standards - something which has often been lacking in recent decades.  But, nevertheless, I can't stand pretentious self-appointed aesthetic cops and good taste Nazis.  People build all sorts of buildings that I think are ugly or which I dislike for a variety of other reasons.  I don't take it upon myself to try and stop them.  


Freedom includes the freedom to do things that other people do not like and that other people do not approve of - and that is especially true when it comes to anything having to do with the arts and aesthetics.


Perhaps the Kimball will someday decide to show paintings that certain people - maybe even a lot of people - disapprove of.  Maybe those people will regard the paintings as morally and aesthetically degenerate and suggest that they are not a "good fit" for Fort Worth and the Cultural District and are inconsistent with the community's aesthetic aspirations.  Maybe those people will start squawking enough and try to intimidate the Kimball into not showing the paintings.  After all, certain people do not like the paintings - they do not approve of the paintings and they do not feel that displaying them is good for the city.


The Kimball has no more right to dictate how other people design buildings than other people have a right to dictate what art the Kimball does and does not show.  And if the Kimball wants control and veto power over what does and does not get built on property adjoining its museum then it needs to raise funds to either buy up neighboring properties or else move to a location where it can build a museum within a certain perimeter of land that it does own. 

#104687 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 05 August 2017 - 01:46 PM



Of course shoppers couldn't get too excited about downtown pedestrian malls when many other malls and shopping centers were being constructed in the fringe suburbs during the '60s and '70s.  Thanks mainly to convenient access afforded by the automobile.  And why go downtown to shop at a mall or do anything else there the amenities are nearby your neighborhood


Yes, that is true.  But here's what's interesting: many downtowns across the country managed to eventually enjoy a revival despite the fact that that the automobile remains as entrenched as ever as people's primary means of transportation.  And Fort Worth actually had the distinction of being among the first USA cities to experience a downtown revival.


So why did the efforts in the 1960s and 1970s fail while later efforts were successful?


I think Fort Worth's downtown revival offers some clues.


I think the biggest reason why Fort Worth's revival worked is that its efforts did not attempt to challenge or compete with the rise of suburban shopping centers and malls.  Suburban shopping offered conveniences and advantages that downtown stores were simply not able to provide. Trying to compete with the suburbs on their own terms was a losing battle in the same way that a mom and pop retailer trying to compete with Walmart on price is not likely to succeed. Yet trying to compete with the suburbs was the premise behind many of the downtown pedestrian malls and they completely failed to address the actual reasons why people were abandoning downtown in the first place.


In Fort Worth, by contrast, the Bass family's successful efforts did not even attempt to take on or challenge the reality of the suburbs.  Instead, they found a way to differentiate downtown from the suburbs and drew up their plans and marketing to provide people with a reason for coming to downtown.


What they did was actually quite innovative:  in an era when the most vocal mindset held that old buildings and surviving remnants of the past were eyesores that needed to be removed in the name of sterile, Brutalist "progress" they fixed up and revived a bunch of old, decaying buildings.


Now, people could have done that all along. But observe that what they drew upon for their branding and marketing was something that no newfangled suburban shopping center could ever offer: a sense of place and a physical connection to our history and heritage.


Observe that the Basses named their effort Sundance Square after a late 19th century bank and train robber who visited downtown Fort Worth a handful of times.  But he wasn't just any random thug among the countless criminals who have spent time in our city - he had what you have to admit was a really cool and catchy nickname and one that was very well-known as a result of recent Hollywood movie depictions.  This was an era in which people still watched television and movie Westerns and a romanticized fascination with the Wild West still part of the popular culture.   And downtown Fort Worth was part of all that - and it offers a physical connection to the time, events and people of our past that you, too, can be part of by walking those exact same streets.  And that's kinda cool.  How many suburban shopping centers can offer that?


There are all sorts of other eras between the 1840s and today and countless famous individuals who have been to downtown Fort Worth just as often and most likely more often than the Sundance Kid that one could tell a fascinating story about and legitimately capitalize on.   But the Sundance angle was undoubtedly one of that made a lot of sense.


Of course, there was more to it than just fixing up buildings and marketing a slice of history.  It is not as if history museums and historical parks are overflowing with large crowds of visitors.  The history was the "hook" that got people's attention - but people need more than that to keep coming back after an initial visit.


The other thing they did was focus on attracting businesses that did not directly compete with suburban shopping centers - businesses that people visited during their leisure time.  Most people don't want to put up with time drains and hassles when running shopping errands - suburban shopping has a strong advantage in that area.  But people tend to do leisure type activities when they are not as pressed for time - thus downtown's convenience disadvantage is not as much of a factor when it comes to that.


Unlike the pedestrian malls of the 1960s and 1970s downtown Fort Worth did not fight the reality of the automobile- it accommodated it by providing plenty of parking.  Had the Basses instead lectured people that automobiles are evil and that one ought to ride the bus to Sundance Square, few would have bothered to show up.


And, importantly, downtown Fort Worth was able to successfully make people feel safe coming downtown during an era in which there was a widespread perception that the central city was high-crime and venturing downtown was dangerous.  In some parts of the country such a perception was valid - in others not so much.   But this is one of those cases where the perception sometimes is more influential than the actual reality.   And even if the decaying downtowns of the era were not actually dangerous, the decline meant that after business hours those remaining on the streets tended to be increasingly poor and destitute.  Most panhandlers aren't dangerous to anybody but themselves.  But even people who are highly compassionate about the plight of the homeless do not particularly enjoy being panhandled.


Over time, after the initial efforts were successful, enough critical mass was achieved in downtown Fort Worth to attract people for reasons other than the Wild West angle.  In fact, my guess is that there are plenty of young twenty somethings walking the streets of downtown who would would be hard-pressed to tell you who the Sundance Kid was.  Today a romanticized version of "urban" life is popular and there are people whose initial draw to the center city is based upon that.  But in both cases there is one common denominator:  people drawn to downtown based on a certain novelty factor of it NOT being like the suburbs.  Ask someone why they have moved to downtown or the central city and their answer will usually be that it offers them something that they cannot obtain in the suburbs.


The problem in the 1960s and 1970s was that there was no way to reverse the downward spiral that was happening in downtowns across the country.  They were experiencing a phenomenon similar to what we have seen in recent decades with "dying malls."   After a certain number of important tenants move out the mall begins to lose the critical mass of drawing power that its success depends on and it becomes increasingly difficult get it back.  Eventually, to at least bring in some sort of revenue, the owners resort to leasing space to technical schools, barber colleges and other businesses that need cheap rent but whose customers will go to pretty much anyplace they happen to be located.  At that point the only thing the mall has to offer tenants is cheap space.  Over time the low rent might not even be enough to cover the costs of maintenance - in which case it might make more sense for the owners to just close the building down entirely.


That is essentially what downtowns were experiencing in the 1960s and 1970s - and putting in a pedestrian mall was about as effective as a mall on its last legs building an improved food court without having signed up any tenants for it.  Yes, the automobile was a major influence on what was happening to downtowns in the 1960s and 1970s - but, as with dying malls, the same phenomenon can happen in cases were automobiles are not a factor. 


What the Basses did was not so much stop the downward spiral in downtown Fort Worth but rather start over and create a brand new upward spiral. It is example of why, rather than struggling to overcome one's weaknesses and disadvantages, the best course of action is often to mitigate them to whatever degree one can and instead focus on building upon one's strengths and the qualities that make one unique.

#104365 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 22 July 2017 - 11:13 AM

We haven't discussed much the future transportation scheme for downtown Fort Worth (or any major city's downtown).  My futuristic vision is for a downtown entirely devoted to pedestrian access and people movers.   It could be by electric trolley car, overhead monorail, subway, or even a hyper-loop system.  But no more access by automobiles.  Of course that would mean either demolishing the parking garages and parking lots or converting them for other uses.  This would make our downtown a more "user-friendly" trafficking place, for commercial markets, government offices, residential housing, or tourism businesses.


It sounds like it would be a neat idea for somebody who is able to live, work and shop downtown and rarely has need to venture beyond its boundaries. 


But what about people in the vast geographic area of the Metroplex beyond downtown?   Would this make them more inclined to go downtown or less inclined to go downtown?  If it makes large numbers of people less inclined to go downtown, what impact would this have on the decisions of employers, shops and restaurants to locate downtown?   For obvious reasons, the preferences and convenience of employees and customers is something that any business has to give serious consideration to.


In the end, unless such a vision is just a fun exercise in fantasy (and there is nothing wrong with such fun and the seeds of valuable practical ideas can sometimes emerge from it) for it to be an actual success it has to pass the test of whether sufficient numbers of real life ordinary people will look upon it as a benefit and support it financially.


In the 1960s - 1980s downtown pedestrian malls were very trendy with central planner types as a means of reversing the decline of downtowns and making them viable and relevant in the age of suburban shopping malls.  And if one were to look at such proposals from the period in an out of context manner, they did sound kinda cool -  streets would be converted into nicely landscaped walkways where people could quaintly stroll to shops and restaurants in a picturesque setting not having to worry about the noise, smell and hazards of traffic and crossing streets.  Cities all over the country jumped on board desperate to do something.   By the 1990s, with a handful of exceptions, they were an utter failure and only accelerated the rate of decline. Most ended up being either ripped out completely or significantly modified to bring back the traffic.


I am sure one can come up with a lengthy list of the various factors that contributed to the failure of the downtown pedestrian malls. In the end, they all boil down to this:  once they were built the same public that supported the idea and vision of a downtown pedestrian mall and supported the use of taxpayer funds to construct them failed to support them in the way that actually mattered.by personally going downtown on a regular basis and spending money at the businesses along the mall.


In other words, the very same people who supported the idea of a downtown pedestrian mall were not motivated to actually use it themselves because it had no relevance and offered no benefit or convenience to their actual day-to-day life.  Perhaps they visited it once or twice to check it out and "show support" but beyond that, they had no compelling need or desire to go there.


Such people hold what I call the "Field of Dreams premise: "Build it and other people will magically appear to enthusiastically support it because.....well, because it is such a darned good idea!"    Who these "other people" are, where they will come from and why they would even want to show up in the first place is not thought of beyond the premise of "well...they ought to show up because it is such a darned good idea."


Most people's daily lives have to contend with two constant obstacles to their goals, dreams and aspirations: a shortage of time and money.   Any idea or proposal that requires them to spend some combination of time and money that does not give them in return something they perceive as being of greater value is going to necessarily be viewed by them as either an inconvenience, a hassle or a burden.  The world is filled with all sorts of projects and endeavors that failed because people have this inconvenient habit of not supporting things that they regard as an inconvenience, hassle or burden.


The very people who supported the idea of pedestrian malls did not support them when they were built because they regarded the expenditure of time and money to support them in the only way that actually mattered to be either an inconvenience, a hassle or a financial burden.   Such malls failed to address in a serious way the reasons why downtowns were declining in the first place - and, in some cases such as the parking hassles and extra expenditure of time associated with shopping downtown, were made even worse.   The "other people" never came out of the woodwork - because there were not enough people whose lives would have been sufficiently improved by showing up and spending money.  


The world is full of "darned good ideas" - more than any single person could possibly support.  Most people don't have much bandwidth left after dealing with the day to day challenges of their lives - so they are choosy as to how they use it.


I often spot the same fallacy in conversations about public transit: people who I suspect would be very unlikely to actually use public transit themselves are passionate about the idea of public transit and passionately support various proposals on the premise that if it is built "other people" will come out of the woodwork and enthusiastically use it because...well, because it is such a darned good idea!


So the idea envisioned here - well, it sounds cool.  But the question is: who will show up? 


If I live elsewhere in the city and get around by automobile, is this something that is going to make it easier and more enticing for me to go downtown?  Or will the fact that I will have to spend time finding a parking space on the outskirts and then spend additional time waiting around for some sort of people mover to, at an additional expenditure of my time, take me where I want to go?  If so, what benefit would I get in return to make that expenditure of time worthwhile?   What if I work downtown and have to spend that additional amount of time getting to work each morning?  How many people would welcome having to spend even more time getting to and from work than they do already? 


If the answer is people will use transit to get to downtown instead of an automobile - then the same questions apply.  There is a time expenditure as well as logistical concerns associated with transit - including the time and logistics of getting to the nearest transit stop to one's home. And what about people who, with an automobile, run multiple errands after work on their way home?   That can be very difficult with transit - one is limited in what one can carry as well as limited by the selection of shops in convenient distance from transit stops plus the time spent waiting for a streetcar/bus to get back on after each stop.


If one attempts to implement some sort of project or vision without addressing such practical, day to day issues - the project is most likely doomed to become an expensive failure.  Private companies using private funds tend to be good about such research and inquiry (though not always) because they have limited access to capital and face financial and career consequences if the endeavor fails.  People who propose public works projects are not as good at that - because they are spending other people's money.


A project or vision does not have to appeal to everybody.  But it has to appeal to enough people for it to be a self-sustaining success and not a failure. I am not saying that the futuristic vision offered here is not possible.  I am just saying that if it is possible, there will have to be a large enough number of real world people who will derive real life everyday practical benefit from it for reasons beyond the fact that it sounds like a darned good idea. 

#104303 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 16 July 2017 - 06:02 PM




#1 - Yes; a point that has been conceded earlier as being valid in specific situations. However, can it  "truly" be his preference when most of what the post-war boom did to redefine cities was determined by the auto/highway industry, the housing industry, big-box malls/retailing industry.  Instead of stating ones preference, one would be more precise is stating that what has been dictated to one is what one likes.  A preference is only truly a preference when one has a viable option, like when one prefers "chocolate ice cream to strawberry ice cream".


This is degenerating into hair splitting and becoming unnecessarily complicated.


All johnfwd did was make some fact-based observations about the current state of downtown and indicated that it is not a good fit for him given the options available to him elsewhere. That is ALL he said - nothing more.  It really is that simple.


To use your ice cream example - most people when offered a choice of chocolate or strawberry ice cream either choose one or the other or they politely decline ice cream altogether. They don't come up with thoughts that, because coffee, coconut and cinnamon flavors were not also offered, it means that they were not "truly" able to express a preference or that because they happen to be lactose intolerant the lack of a dairy-free option  means that they never had a choice to begin with. They either say "chocolate please" or "strawberry please" or "no thank you."



Of course, somewhere near to 99% of American cities do not have a viable option today, but those very few cities that offer options have a population that in significant number love and prefer an auto-less lifestyle where consumer goods and services providers have been eager to deliver; and at reasonable prices.  I


Yes.  And there are also plenty of people who have left such cities for places like Texas and are glad to be rid of them.   For example, I have heard a lot of people over the years express how delighted they were that, after moving to Texas, for the same price as rent on a cramped not-so-nice apartment in New York City they were able to afford a mortgage on a house that was downright huge by comparison with its own back yard and/or pool.   Others couldn't care less about having such things and there are still others who think owning a house with a back yard is evil and a mortal sin against Mother Gaia. It all depends on what one regards as important and what one values.

#104300 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 16 July 2017 - 11:11 AM


Yet to the finer point surrounding car parking "suburbs v. downtown", doesn't the final analysis depends upon the situation that can make for different realities?



Yes.  Exactly.  Which is what I pointed out in my posting.  


In the suburbs a dwelling that did not include parking would be perceived by most prospective residents as being significantly flawed.  Developers are not going to build suburban housing that does not include parking because the discount they would have to offer in order to sell or rent such a property would far exceed the relatively marginal cost of including parking spaces.  There are people who live in the suburbs who do not use cars - for example, people with disabilities that make it impossible for them to drive.  But even they would be ill-advised to request a house to be built without parking in order to save on the cost of pouring a driveway because of the extreme difficulties and reduced offers they would encounter in the event that they or their heirs put the property up for sale.


In Manhattan, by contrast, the lack of space makes the cost of even a tiny amount of square footage extremely expensive  If a seller or landlord were to include parking in the price of a dwelling that price would be cost prohibitive to most buyers/tenants. Thus including a parking space would make it more difficult to find a buyer or tenant in the same way that not including one would make it difficult to find a buyer or tenant in Plano.


Because of the scarcity of space, owning a car in most of New York City has been highly impractical ever since cars were first introduced.  For that reason the pre-automobile era infrastructure in New York and a few other cities in the USA remained in place to such a degree that one still can get by without a car.  In the rest of the country, for example, here in Texas, that pre-automobile era infrastructure began to slowly disappear as soon as cars became increasingly affordable.



If johnfwd, who must surely realize the difference between an auto and a transit oriented city v. "cars", can admit that his preference cannot be actualized in Fort Worth; then he will admit that his preference cannot be a reasonable choice.


I think you are misrepresenting johnfwd's actual position and trying to find a point of contention that does not exist.


Johnfwd made certain observations about downtown that are entirely factual: downtown shops are high priced and offer limited selection and that one has to pay extra for parking.  He then suggests that he prefers having certain amenities that are available in the suburbs but which are either not available downtown or which are only available at a higher price.


One can certainly say that one's own personal set of priorities and preferences are different than johnfwd's - but there are no grounds to suggest that his preference here is somehow unreasonable.  Most people prefer to have handy, affordable and hassle-free access to the amenities that are important to them - and it is eminently reasonable for them to do so.   Johnfwd was not knocking downtown.  He was simply pointing out that it currently lacks certain amenities that are important to him and thus living downtown is not a fit for him. I saw no indication that he was in any way suggesting that it might not be a great fit for someone else who might have different priorities and preferences.


My own attitude towards lifestyle preferences is really simple:  so long as they don't involve the initiation of force or fraud against someone else, your lifestyle preferences are your business and nobody else's.  Life is short - know what is important and precious to you and live your life accordingly.

#104293 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 15 July 2017 - 06:21 PM

If you are paying for your residence in the suburbs, you are paying to park.  The cost is rolled into your house payment, rent, etc.  It didn't come with the house or apartment for free.


Yes, that is of course correct.  But in the final analysis - not so much. 


It is like the "free" water that pretty much any restaurant will give to customers.  The water, of course, is not free.  The restaurant pays a water bill to cover all of the costs associated with piping it to the restaurant.  The restaurant also pays for cups and for the costs associated with making the ice - both of which cost more than the water itself.  But those costs are so marginal that to break them out and pass them on to customers as a separate fee would end up being penny wise/pound foolish on the part of the restaurant. 


Sure, the savings from not having to subsidize the cost of "free" water could be passed on to customers who either drink nothing or who pay for drinks such as coffee or soda.  But the savings would be so minimal as to be irrelevant to most customers.  More importantly, if such a restaurant charged for water, it would be received negatively  by a number of customers who would perceive the owners as little more than anal retentive cheapskates who seek to nickle and dime their customers.   The damage to the restaurants reputation and customer satisfaction would cost far more than any savings that might result from not subsidizing "free" water.


It would be an entirely different matter if certain circumstances were changed.  For example, if the restaurant were located in a part of the world where the local water supply was not safe and the only water fit for drinking was bottled water the owners would most likely not be in a position to provide complimentary water because of the costs associated with providing bottled water - and that would be something most customers would be able to understand and not hold against the restaurant.


A good example of how something like this can vary according to different circumstances is hotel rooms with private bathrooms.  Up until a little less than a hundred years ago, if one wanted a hotel room with a private bath it was common practice for one to have to pay extra.   Most hotels provided shared bathroom facilities  - a room with a private bath was considered a luxury.   Over time, however, the cost associated with installing plumbing fell to the point that hotel rooms without a private bathroom were no longer built.  The only place one will still find them today in the United States are in older hotels in places such as New York City.


Sure, a hotel could still save money on construction costs by building shared bathroom facilities rather than a private bathroom in each room.  But the savings would be so marginal as to not be worth it.  Let's say that over the course of however many years the savings could result in a $5 per night reduction in the price of a hotel room.   How many people would be willing to endure the hassles associated with staying in such a facility just to save $5?   Chances are the discount the hotel would have to offer for such a room would far exceed the savings that would be obtained by omitting the private bath.  Therefore, when you book a room at even the lowest end budget motel chain, a "free" private bathroom will be included with your room - along with "free" use of a TV, and other things. Most hotels now offer "free" internet - something that, a few years ago, had to be purchased as an add-on.


The same principle applies with regard to suburban parking spaces.  Of course such parking spaces are not free.  They occupy space which presumably has a certain value per square foot and, of course, the material and labor to pave the parking space is not free either.  But just as it does not make economic sense to build new hotel rooms without private baths, it makes no sense to build a suburban housing without parking.  Yes, there would be a certain cost savings by omitting parking - but the reduction in property value or the rent one could charge would far exceed any such savings.  For that reason, no suburban developer in his right mind would build houses that did not include a driveway and most likely they would not even build a house that did not include a garage.   Therefore, parking is "free" in the suburbs just as water is in restaurants and bathrooms, air conditioning/heat, the use of a TV, etc is included for "free" whenever one books a hotel room.


The only reason parking is not "free" in urban areas is entirely due to land scarcity - which, of course, makes the cost of providing such parking expensive.  In this case, it makes sense to break the cost of parking out and bill for it separately because tenants who are able to get by with one parking space instead of two or perhaps with no parking space at all results in a significant savings that can be passed on.


So it is entirely reasonable for johnfwd to prefer to park his car for "free" in the suburbs than pay for parking downtown.  In the suburbs the cost of a parking space is a marginal part of the price of the property and is, therefore, included with it.  In downtown parking is scarce and thus one has to pay a steep price for it. It is not as if the cost of downtown housing is less expensive than suburban housing due to the lack of included parking.  Quite the contrary - even without parking downtown housing is expensive.  Therefore, there are certain premiums one has to pay and/or hassles one has to endure in order to live downtown.  For some people it is worth it - for others it is not.  How would you enjoy staying in a hotel where you had to swipe your credit card to activate the television, the shower, the toilet and to ensure that the air conditioner/heater continues to operate for a certain number of additional hours without realizing any sort of cost savings by your not using such amenities?  You probably won't appreciate it very much - but it is conceivable that some people might be willing to do so if such a hotel were able to offer some other value that made such costs and hassles worth enduring.


My strong guess is economists have a technical name for the principle involved here - I just don't know what it is.


#104040 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 02 July 2017 - 03:08 PM

Bud Kennedy proposes something a little different. Central Education District?



I wonder if there are any colleges looking to perhaps relocate to a more vibrant area.  Wouldn't it be neat for a college to go into some or all of the historic buildings XTO is vacating?  There certainly are colleges that are located in urban buildings that had previous uses.  The article mentions colleges in Boston. One of those is Emerson College which is located in various older buildings - including two very historic theaters that the college has restored.  And New York City's 10 story Asch Building built in 1900 and the scene of the horrific and infamous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire which killed 146 people has been part of the New York University campus since about 1916. (I checked the building out once when I was in New York though was not able to go inside. It was very creepy standing there remembering the photos of I had seen of bodies on the same sidewalks decades earlier. I can't imagine going to class on the floors where it all happened without thinking about it)


Given the layout of XTO's buildings, one could easily include a few floors of dorm rooms.


My guess is that there probably aren't all that many colleges looking to move - and I have no idea of how the cost of buying the buildings would compare to other options for a campus.   But it would nevertheless be cool.

#104025 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 01 July 2017 - 12:44 PM


(1) If people live in WR or CTR, they will be living there for reasons other than employment.  Why can't people live in Downtown for reasons other than employment?



People can and do live downtown for reasons other than proximity to employment.  And that completely misses the point.  People currently do live downtown because of its proximity to their jobs.  If those jobs go away so will the people who live downtown for that reason - and thus downtown will no longer be able to serve that segment of the residential market that it currently serves. 


If such people cannot live in close proximity to their jobs in downtown Fort Worth they will find someplace else to live - and not necessarily in the Metroplex.  There are  people who put up with punitive taxes and high costs of living in certain cities simply because they offer lifestyle options that places like Fort Worth are not in a position to provide. Residential districts in other parts of the Metroplex are not the only competition the downtown housing market faces - people can always choose to move to another part of the country altogether.


2) It is generally an accepted fact that a significant amount of workers commute from Fort Worth to Dallas. If the jobs are in Dallas, why do people continue to live in Fort Worth. Again, it seems evident to me that people live where they live for reasons other than employment.




And the operative word here is: such people "continue" to live in Fort Worth.   My very strong hunch is that most people who have nasty rush hour commutes to Dallas/Dallas County are those who already lived in Fort Worth before beginning their current jobs and either cannot afford to relocate or have the logistical difficulty of having to sell a house before a relocation is possible or because their spouse still works in Fort Worth or because they have school/social ties that they do not wish to break.


Not many people who have a Dallas County job that pays well enough to afford a downtown Fort Worth apartment are going to choose to relocate all the way out to downtown Fort Worth where their free time will be sucked away sitting in one hour plus traffic congestion two times each weekday.


If Downtown is populated by a greater proportion of renters than ownership, what is the harm to Downtown. When consuming services, purchasing food, patronizing restaurants, entertainment and cultural events, what does it matter to the businesses in Downtown how the customer provides for their lodging..



It doesn't particularly matter to retailers and entertainment venues whether their customers own or rent - they are more than happy to take anybody's money. In fact, my hunch is that a high proportion of renters is a plus for such businesses because the types of renters who have plenty of disposable income tend to place a higher priority on restaurant and entertainment venues than do people who "settle down" and live in the suburbs whose time and spending priorities tend to be in other areas.


Again, all of this misses the point.  Where rent verses own is relevant in this context is not how people spend their money but the degree of people's mobility and thus their stability in terms of how long they tend to stay in one place.  


A neighborhood where people own is more able to withstand changes in the overall marketplace because it is not as easy to relocate if one owns a home as when one rents.  If the economy takes a nosedive people may be "stuck" in their houses and unable to move without extremely adverse consequences if they are upside down in their mortgages.  Renters in a down economy have more flexibility to seek opportunities elsewhere when their leases expire.  And rental districts are much more subject to fluctuations in terms of what is popular and trendy.  If some other part of town becomes "hot" or newer apartments with more enticing features are built somewhere else, higher income renters can and will move in a heartbeat.  Meanwhile, people who buy houses are not likely to be as quick to move simply because some other neighborhood that is nicer or more trendy springs up elsewhere.


And, by the way, one of the potential pitfalls of an area having a high concentration of renters - even if they are high end renters - is the area can go into a downward spiral very quickly if it falls out of favor.  That can happen to areas where most people own as well - but because owners tend to stay longer and be more stable it takes much longer for it to happen. 


I remember in the 1990s aftermath of the 1980s apartment building boom and subsequent real estate crash going through parts of North Dallas that were built in the 1960s and 1970s.  The houses in that part of town remained solidly middle-middle to upper middle-class.  But many of the apartment complexes built along the major thoroughfares had completely fallen out of fashion and in some instances spiraled down into pockets of poverty and crime  surrounded by a sea of fairly affluent neighborhoods.



Austin, Texas seems like a perfect example of what I am saying: It is a city with a high proportion of residents being transient/college students. The demand for apartment living there is why there are so many towers in its Downtown Austin and why there is such a thriving entertainment district along the lake front.


Yes.   And if the university were to close its doors or the state government were to relocate to Amarillo those apartment towers would start emptying very quickly.


Any human life as well as any building, neighborhood, city, business, institution or other human endeavor must have some sort of economic basis on which its future viability and existence will depend.  If one of its current means of economic support go away then either some new source of support must be found or that person, building, city or institution will be forced to go through significant changes in order to adjust.


If the downtown Fort Worth housing loses an important portion of its current market then either new markets must be found or downtown Fort Worth will undergo some not necessarily pleasant changes. 


You seem to think that just replacing that lost market (and a whole lot of other things as well) is easy because you see it as good and desirable.  Very few things that are worthwhile in life are easy - and dead-ends and failures are always more frequent than successes. 


Desire and optimism are great - but only when they are exercised in the context of looking at cold hard reality.  Otherwise it is no different than the child who, in response to being told by his father that the family is unable to afford a trip to Disney World replies: "That's silly Daddy - all you have to do is ask your boss for a pay raise. I'll start packing now."

#103981 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 28 June 2017 - 05:31 AM



 Unless I missed it, there has never been any objection to the either Walsh Ranch or Chisolm Trail Ranch because of the absence of "jobs" within their prospective development.  The objections have been largely concerns about sprawl and decentralization.



I have addressed this - I am not sure what i can say to make it more clear. Let me give it one more try.


The proposed developments you mention will be, to the best of my knowledge, primarily bedroom communities.  People move to such developments knowing full well that they will not likely be able to walk or bike to work and will have a commute.   The issue for them is how far the commute is. My guess is most prospective buyers in that area will have jobs within the central portion of Fort Worth or at least Tarrant County.   I seriously doubt many people who have jobs in North Dallas or Plano will be interested in living in Walsh Ranch.


By contrast, one of the major appeals of living downtown is a lifestyle where it is possible to walk or bike to work or, at the very least, have an extremely short commute.  If as you suggest, most decent paying jobs downtown leave downtown,then downtown will no longer have such an appeal to that particular segment of the market that it currently serves - a segment of the market a place like Walsh Ranch is simply not able to serve in the first place.


People choose live in places such as Walsh Ranch for reasons that are entirely different from those who choose to live downtown.  That is why there is no "double standard." For the context of this discussion we are talking about apples and oranges.



If Downtown does not change and continue to depend upon a old model, then we will continue to lament the gap between Dallas' Downtown and Fort Worth's Downtown; as the business decision makers in the region have shown where their preferences are.


And if jobs disappear from downtown Dallas the way you say that they will disappear from downtown Fort Worth then the exact same thing will happen to downtown Dallas but more so.   Getting around in Dallas traffic can be brutal.  Have you looked at rents in central Dallas lately?  It is difficult to find anything that is not a run down dump with sketchy tenants for less than $1,000 per month - and not just downtown but also Old East Dallas and The Cedars.  I know because a friend of mine is currently looking for a place.  A big reason people pay such prices is so they can live close to work.

#103976 Central Tourism District

Posted by Dismuke on 27 June 2017 - 09:17 PM

There seems clearly to be a double standard being applied to Downtown where the standard is that it must incorporate jobs to be sustainable neighborhood while other neighborhoods get a pass.


Now when you look at the proposed neighborhoods of Walsh Ranch or Chisolm Trail Ranch, jobs are not an essential or even a  component to either of them being declared as sustainable.


I believe the CBD should be given the same standard or at least not be held to a much narrower standard when seen as being a qualifying as a sustainable neighborhood.







There's no double standard at all.  Those neighborhoods are subject to the exact same laws of economic cause and effect that downtown is subject to and every single one of is subject to


Unless their purpose is to attract retirees, the success of the proposed neighborhoods you mention will be dependent upon the existence of jobs within a reasonable distance that will enable prospective residents to feel confident enough to buy and pay for houses there.   If a significant amount of the jobs in the central portion of Fort Worth move away to Collin or Dallas County suburbs or even to Fort Worth's Alliance district, that would have an adverse impact on those developments just as it would downtown.


People's primary consideration in where they live is based on their ability to find a way to make a living and pay their bills. If you can't pay your bills, then finding an income stream becomes your primary objective - other desires and goals become secondary.   I suspect a great many people in the Metroplex would prefer to live elsewhere - but they don't because it would be difficult to impossible for them to make a decent living in such places.  


That is why many more houses and apartments are being built in Dallas and Collin County than in Fort Worth.  It is not because such locations are necessarily nicer places to live - it is just that there are a whole lot more jobs available there than there is here.


The only real difference between downtown and those proposed neighborhoods is the type of housing.   Downtown consists mostly of renters who do not have children.  As such, that tends to be a much more transient population - so if their job moves to a location where they are suddenly faced with a brutal commute it is comparatively easy for them to move with it.   The other difference is that living in very close or even walking distance proximity to one's job is one of the reasons why people are attracted to downtown.   If the jobs go away so goes the appeal downtown had for them to be there in the first place.


Sure, downtown has bars and restaurants.  But so do the suburbs.  And, even if one prefers the downtown bars, restaurants and amenities such as Bass Hall, having to waste one's life in a nasty commute five days per week isn't worth the convenience of being in close proximity to an entertainment district on the one evening per week when one's after hours time is not drained away sitting in traffic.  If one were a renter, it would make much more sense to live close to work and simply drive to downtown for its entertainment offerings - which are typically in highest demand after the rush hour traffic dies down.


At the end of the day, you cannot separate the vitality of a residential neighborhood from the need for nearby jobs for its residents.  To the degree the jobs go away so does the vitality of a neighborhood.   To the degree that the jobs that are available require lengthy commutes the less the people who live there have to spend on housing due to the higher costs associated with the commute.  That places a downward pressure on housing prices/rents. And because most people would prefer not to waste precious time sitting in traffic they tend to place a premium on housing that is close to where they work - and conversely are not as willing to spend top dollar on housing of equal desirability if it is far away.


The same is true even in highly urbanized areas.  Rents in Brooklyn or Queens that are in very close waking distance to stations on the subway lines into Manhattan go for much more than a similar amount of square feet in a neighborhood that requires a lengthy walk or having to catch a bus to get to the same station.  It is all about access to the employment centers where there are a concentration of higher paying jobs.