Belo Garden opens on site of former downtown Dallas parking lot
Thursday May 10, 2012
Dallas Morning News – by Roy Appleton
Amy M. Meadows, Belo Foundation Vice President Executive Director, addresses the crowd at Thursday’s formal opening of the Belo Garden in downtown Dallas. Those in attendance included Robert Decherd (far left), Belo Corp. chairman and A.H. Belo Corp. chairman, president and CEO; Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (third from left); Dunia Shive, Belo Corp. president and CEO (fourth from right); and Jim Moroney, A.H. Belo vice president and president and publisher of The Dallas Morning News (third from right).
The site of a former parking lot is now a downtown draw, a place to gather and linger.
Belo Garden — an oasis of trees and grasses, benches and fountains — opened Thursday morning with a ceremony celebrating the scene and those who made it happen.
“In any urban setting, living well depends disproportionately on a sense of space,” Robert Decherd, chairman of the Belo Foundation, told a crowd of about 400 people.
“Belo Garden is an important addition to the fabric of Dallas,” he said.
The Belo Foundation and Belo Corp. paid for the design and construction of the $15 million park. City bond money was used to purchase and remediate the 1.7-acre space.
Bounded by Main, Griffin and Commerce streets and high-rise condominiums, the park features a rich variety of native Texas trees, grasses and flowers.
A plaza and walkways are paved in Texas-quarried stone. Zoysia grass carpets a 9-foot-high mound that will help screen the sight and noise of traffic and provide a soft place to relax. For seating, there are also benches and chairs. Three arching fountains offer calming sounds and relief from the summer heat. Turn off the fountains and the plaza can become a performance site.
All where asphalt once ruled.
The private foundation of Robert and Maureen Decherd has endowed $1 million toward future capital investment and repairs at the park.
Decherd is chairman, president and chief executive officer of A.H. Belo Corp., parent of The Dallas Morning News, and also chairman of Belo Corp., a television broadcasting company whose properties include WFAA-TV (Channel 8).
Belo Garden is the second downtown park included in a 2004 master plan to become reality. The first, Main Street Garden, opened in 2009. A third, Klyde Warren Park, will open this autumn on a deck over Woodall Rodgers Freeway. Pacific Plaza, a fourth downtown park, is unfunded.
Last month, the city accepted a $150,000 donation from the Decherd Foundation and an additional $15,000 from Maureen and Robert Decherd to update the downtown parks plan.
The Decherds were praised for their vision, commitment and leadership by speakers including Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas Park Board President Joan Walne.