An Intern Reports From the Groundbreaking at Museum Tower

museumtowerAshley Slayton graduated from Prairie View A&M in 2008. She is spending some time with us this summer, trying to figure out how, exactly, we managed to put out a magazine every month. Today she drew the short straw and had to stand in the heat for the groundbreaking at Museum Tower. Her report follows the jump.

Tower of Power

By Ashley Slayton

After 12 years of ownership, five years of planning, 67 designs, and planning that stretched through the terms of three different mayors, Museum Tower finally got its start today.

As I entered the groundbreaking site of the 42-story residential high rise, sandwiched between Pearl and Olive Streets, right off Woodall Rodgers Freeway, I was surprised by how clean everything looked. I had anticipated standing in a pile of dirt, surrounded by men in suits and hardhats. The valet driver whisked my car away, and I observed about 75 people mingling under a white tarp, sipping lemonade, tea, water, and snacking on hors d’oeuvres. A massive screen hung above a raised dais flashing images of downtown Dallas and renderings of Museum Tower. A long trough filled with sand stretched in front of the dais, and a group of shovels rested against a nearby table.

Under the tarp blocking out the blazing sun, Dallas’ elite — businessmen and women, elected officials and other VIPs — chatted about a variety of topics, most of them above my pay grade. (My nonexistent pay grade.) Developers John Sughrue, Dan Boeckman, Greg Green, Lyle Burgin, and architect Scott Johnson wove in and out of the crowd, happily chatting about the tower. Just as the atmosphere began to get unbearably stuffy and people began removing suit jackets, the program began. All the dignitaries were recognized, and a polite smattering of applause followed.

Developer John Sughrue talked about what an accomplishment Museum Tower would be for the Arts District and the long road it had taken to become a reality. “Today is a day of work for us. Today is the day the dirt flies,” Sughrue said.

Mayor Tom Leppert approached the mic and expressed his sentiments about Museum Tower fostering further development in the area and resulting in more people coming, living, and working in Dallas. “In the end, what this says is Dallas was willing to invest in itself,” Leppert said. “This project’s going to make a difference to the community.

One by one, the developers took turns spouting good things about Dallas, the Arts District, and Museum Tower, which they already think will become “the centerpiece of the Dallas Arts District” before the first brick has been laid.

“This will be one of the great addresses in the nation,” Beckman said.

“This will put the Arts District on the Dallas skyline,” Johnson said.

“Museum Tower is a testimony to our strong local economy,” Sughrue said.

Standing there sweating profusely, I tried to envision the grandiose mammoth of steel and glass they were describing. Forty-two floors filled with 122 luxury condominiums. Energy systems on every floor designed to create a green building. Exquisite plazas and a wellness center. A pool to die for. Applause shook me out of my reverie.

Finally, it was time for the real action. Shoveling the dirt. A group of people lined up in front of the trough of dirt, each clutching a shovel. At the count of three, they dug in their shovels. The scoops tipped and dirt went flying onto the green felt floor. Raucous cheering and more applause from bystanders ensued. Judging by the expressions on their faces, I think they enjoyed it more than they let on.

A public relations representative handed me a folder with information about the tower, and I thumbed through the packet. What I found confirmed my earlier suspicions. It was definitely going to be one of those places that elicits an ‘Oooo’ then an ‘Ahhh’ when you drive by it. Residences ranging from a 1,450-square-foot pied-a-terre to an 8,700-square-foot penthouse with 14-foot high ceilings. I’m pretty sure my mouth flopped open when my eyes ran across the prices of the one, two and three bedrooms, priced around $1.1 million or more, and I snapped the folder shut as if hiding confidential information. Yeah, right. Maybe if I was a plastic surgeon instead of struggling journalist I could afford a place like that. Thanks a lot Mom and Dad for encouraging me to chase my dreams instead of reality.

“I wonder if they’ll do tours,” I said aloud. The man next to me shrugged.

“I could probably afford four square feet in that building,” he said.

“They wouldn’t even let me past the lobby,” I replied, and we laughed.

The crowd had begun to disperse, and as quickly as it had begun, it ended. Twenty-seven months from now, Museum Tower will grace the Dallas skyline. I’ll probably ‘Oooh’ and ‘Ahh’ as I drive by.


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