|THE BELMONT’S BACK: Owner and developer Monte Anderson. (Below right) Morrocan fixtures adorn the hotel. (Below left) The hotel’s colorful lobby.|
The Belmont Motor Hotel was for years a dilapidated wreck. Now it’s a stylish urban hotel that’s redefining its Fort Worth Avenue neighborhood.
by Christine Wilson
When developer Monte Anderson purchased the land on Fort Worth Avenue in 1999, he wasn’t the convert of New Urbanism that he is today. In fact, he originally envisioned building a high-rise atop the bluff that is now scheduled to be an innovative, mixed-use development. As for Belmont Motor Hotel and its bulletproof glass reception area, its fate was uncertain. The main appeal of the space certainly wasn’t the dilapidated buildings or the low-income housing in the corridor. But the hill on which the Belmont sits is not without appeal; it garners unparalleled views of downtown. I’ve always loved the hill, and I wanted to live here, Anderson says.
A visit to Austin’s Hotel San Jose, a former motor court that has undergone urban renewal and is now a hip, bungalow-style hotel, influenced Anderson. I didn’t copy it, but seeing the San Jose changed the way I thought, he says. It was an evolution of being more aware. Now I want to preserve the character of this place. We need this desperately to remember where we came from and to learn from it.
And the Belmont doesn’t lack character. The motor hotel opened in 1946, back when Fort Worth Avenue was the main highway between Fort Worth and Dallas. But over the years, the face of renowned regional architect Charles Stevens Dilbeck’s hotel saw a changing and deteriorating landscape.
|The hotel in the mid 50s and today.|
Now the motor inn has been restored to its former glory – if not beyond. The 68-room boutique hotel has an outdoor pool, garden, neighborhood bar and lounge, and wireless Internet in the brightly decorated interiors that sport photographs of Dallas taken by local photographers. Locality is key for Anderson, who grew up in Oak Cliff and got tired of watching his friends move away. I realized I had to do something about it, he says. We basically hire all local, he says. We’ve gone back to our roots to bring the best artists and craftsmen on our team.
Plans for a spa and an upscale diner are in the works. And the Villas at Dilbeck Court will soon accompany the hotel. The 10-acre project will also include retail and office space. Anderson says he wanted to create a place where his friends and family could live, so prices will range from $600-per-month lofts to $750,000 townhouses. There are all incomes among friends and family. Why can’t neighborhoods be that way, too? It’s emotionally unhealthy to separate the rich from the poor, Anderson explains.
Looking ahead, Anderson envisions an eclectic mixed-use area that incorporates everything from industrial areas to quality urban retail. In 10 years, I think there will be great sidewalks with trees and lights and outdoor cafes, he says. It will be a place to live, work, and play, a place to meet people from all over the world without leaving the neighborhood.
|ROOM SERVICE: The unfussy, modern interior of the garden suite. The sunset skyline view from one of the Belmont’s rooms.|
A Neighborhood Reborn
In what exemplifies the spirit of the grassroots effort, the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group began in 1999 when three North Oak Cliff neighbors became dissatisfied with the nearby corridor of West Commerce Street and Fort Worth Avenue. Empty and poorly maintained spaces and deteriorated residential areas abounded, and economic growth was at a standstill. “The area became blighted and neglected. Becoming a haven for loitering, drug traffic, and condemned facilities,” says Joseph Hernandez, president of the development group.
Many who lived and worked in the area were galvanized by the prospect of a revitalized corridor. Hernandez says the biggest challenge was to kick off the rezoning of the area. It had evolved in an unregulated fashion; city planning was not comprehensive, and separately owned properties complicated the needs of the corridor as a whole. The 100+ member group of homeowners and commercial property owners developed a strategy for being heard. They worked with local politicians, the state and federal government, neighborhood associations, and commercial developers to create the Land Use Study, a master plan to designate land uses, develop public safety rules, incorporate green spaces, and basically make the corridor a place you’d want to be.
“It’s tiresome to watch the economic boom in the rest of Dallas and see a stigma associated with Oak Cliff and West Dallas. An underlying motivation for the group was the fact that we’d lost our services and amenities,” Hernandez says. An excess of $25 million in new development has made its way to the area including a Walgreens and a Home Depot. And the group has had direct involvement in trying to bring in other businesses.
“Only about one in five businesses is willing to take that plunge,” Hernandez says. But the Belmont renovation is one of them. “The project is a huge catalyst for economic development in the area,” he says. The influx of new or improved establishments may challenge other businesses to improve or to sell to a developer. The Belmont Hotel is one just piece of the economic development puzzle in West Dallas.
French designer Paul Mathieu was so inspired by the open-air markets of India where spices are measured with exquisite small instruments, that he created these hand-forged sterling silver ones (right, at bottom) for Odegard Inc. $525 for a set of seven. Mathieu’s carved marble candlesticks combine the traditional craft of stone carving with a modern approach to design. Candlesticks, $657 to $821. Spoons and candlesticks available at Odegard Inc. 1525 Slocum St. 214-573-7644.
MAKE YOUR BED
Jessica Martin, a veteran of The Linen Gallery and Peacock Alley, has opened Casa di Lino (House of Linens in Italian). The store carries more than six lines of fine Italian linens, including Versail, a collection of tone-on-tone damasks and jacquards, which can be ordered in custom sizes, and Home Treasures, which imports linens from Italy and can produce custom orders with a 24-hour turn around. You can also choose from Hamburg House’s 50 different embroidery patterns in many colors. Casa di Lino is also a source for several styles of upholstered headboards, chairs, and ottomans, which can be custom covered to match your linens. Martin has staffed the store with industry experts and a small design team that will come to clients homes free of charge to measure, look at swatches, and help turn a plain bedroom into a boudoir. Casa di Lino. 4026 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-252-0404.
|Discover traditional home furnishings at Antique Stop.|
What began as a side business at antique malls has become a hopping entrepreneurial venture for Rose and Mark Lafferty and their Antique Stop. Picture high-quality antiques paired with candles, cut crystal, and reproduction bowls and accessories”all in theme rooms with inviting displays of art, upholstery, and mirrors complementing the antiques. Antique Stop also has the best collection of Lampe Berger in North Texas. Antique Stop. 3400 Preston Rd., Ste. 205, Plano. 972-312-150. www.antiquestop.com.
|White Rock Home Tour|
It’s Home Tour Season!
and here are some of our favorites
Dallas Parade of Homes
May 27-June 18
The Lowdown: The Parade of Homes showcases luxury custom homes with state-of-the-art amenities and elegant dcor, all benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas. Contact [email protected] or 972-931-4840 for more information. Or visit www.dallasbuilders.com/displaycommon.cfm?an=5.
Hollywood Home Tour
April 29-April 30
The Lowdown: The tour will feature five historic, beautifully renovated and preserved homes. For more information, contact 214-328-1851, or visit www.hsmna.org/tour.htm.
2006 Mother’s Day Home & Garden Tour
Swiss Avenue Historic District
The Lowdown: The historic district will celebrate its 101st anniversary this May with another spectacular home tour. Visit www.sahd.org for more information.
WFAA Dream Homes
The Lowdown: Two dream homes are being built for show in McKinney. The houses will then be auctioned off to benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. Visit www.wfaa.com/dreamhomes for more information.
White Rock Home Tour
April 22 and 23
The Lowdown: The tour will showcase contemporary homes built in the late 50s and early 60s by Ju-Nel and will benefit Hexter Elementary. Contact Christine Rogers at [email protected] for more information.
Around the Table Home Tour
The Lowdown: The tour raises money for the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation. For information, call 972-223-1094.
Peacock Alley, known for its luxury sheeting, has introduced its first-ever line of brights, by way of Vera Bradley, whose colorful, patterned handbags and luggage have been a Southern staple for years. Bradley’s collection features duvets, coverlets, pillow shams, and decorative pillows in Petal Pink, feminine ensembles of brilliant, bursting spring blooms of pink and green, and in Java Blue, an enchanting combination of turquoise and rich chocolate brown, reminiscent of a dreamy spring night. With colors this vibrant, your bedroom will give Mother Nature’s blooms some fierce competition. $38 to $405. Peacock Alley. 4311 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 150. 1-800-652-3818. www.peacockalley.com.
Peacock Alley’s new Vera Bradley linen collections (Petal Pink, left; Java Blue, right) will turn your boudoir into a bed of flowers.