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What’s Going on With the Alamo Plaza Sign?

Photo: Alison Slomowitz
Photo: Alison Slomowitz

From our friends at Oak Cliff People:

Michael Amonnet, past president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, is none too pleased about Sylvan Thirty developers’ new call for public input on the historic Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts sign. He was under the impression it would stay put, Amonnet tells me, adding that such signage “reflects a certain part of our history — the motor-court era.” Preservation Dallas director David Preziosi echoed his words.

Sylvan Thirty spokesman Cooper Smith Koch has a different take. The sign was never guaranteed to stay in its present location, he said, and some well-known locals (who he didn’t name) have already had some creative suggestions for its use. “Our intention was do to a very good thing — to give our neighbors and friends a role in what happens to that sign,” Koch said, “and to give it a new life.”

I drive by the sign — at the corner of Fort Worth and Sylvan avenues, in West Dallas — every day. It’s beautiful. It would be a shame to see it go, even if it’s preserved elsewhere. Why not keep it there and use it as a message board for Sylvan Thirty?

There’s a new clarification on Sylvan Thirty’s site — “To be clear, we have plans in development for using the sign on our site, which was our original intention. However, community members have come forward suggesting that we allow it to be used as public art to represent West Dallas and the Fort Worth Avenue corridor. As we’ve said before, we’re open to all ideas.” — so we’ll see where this all goes. Developers are accepting suggestions until Monday.

Pick up this week’s Oak Cliff People for more details.

16 comments on “What’s Going on With the Alamo Plaza Sign?

  1. I handle PR for Sylvan Thirty. We’ve always been upfront with our intentions to move the sign from its present location. Michael Amonnet himself stated as much in the Dallas Morning News post yesterday when he talked about seeing renderings of the sign in our central courtyard.

    We can still incorporate the sign into the development, but we’re getting feedback from the community that it could have a more high-profile life as public art that benefits West Dallas and the greater Fort Worth Avenue corridor…and we’re open to those ideas.

    If we’re already moving it to elsewhere within the development (which may not technically even be on the original Alamo Plaza property, since our site is made up of many tracts of land), how is that any different that allowing it to live and be enjoyed just a block or two away in a more prominent location?

    Based on Michael’s quote above, the preservation effort seems to be to remember the era of motor court hotels, not just this specific one. Commerce Street and the Fort Worth Avenue corridor were lined with them, so placing it nearby seems like a more fitting alternative than being placed elsewhere within our development.

  2. Are you kidding, Cooper? No corner will be more prominent or high-profile than where the sign stands now. Assurances were made that the sign would stay at Sylvan Thirty! I live in the community and I think it should stay.

  3. During our discussions, we said that would stay somewhere at Sylvan Thirty, but that it definitely would not remain at its original location. Specifically, the conversation originally focused on it being moved to the central interior park area. That can still happen, but the sign would likely not be very visible from either street in that case.

    The reason we’re entertaining other options at this point is because we’ve been asked to by community members who would like to see it come to life as public art. If the community wants to embrace it for the greater good of promoting the West Dallas/Fort Worth Avenue area, then we’re open to that, too.

  4. Feedback from whom and which community, Cooper? The developer community? The City? The mouse in your pocket?

  5. To be more specific, community leaders and neighbors in West Dallas and other businesses on Fort Worth Avenue. In other words, people who have a vested interest in making West Dallas a more vibrant, engaging environment where people want to live, work, shop, eat and visit.

    To my knowledge, none of the people who are making waves about us asking the community for suggestions actually live or work in West Dallas. Some live in Oak Cliff (which is a neighboring, but still different, part of town) and some don’t even live or work anywhere nearby.

    And because you asked, the mouse in my pocket doesn’t have an opinion either way. He just wants cheese.

  6. Below are the DMN articles that date back to the demolition of the Alamo. Each contains assurances to the community from the developer about the sign remaining at Sylvan/Thirty and being incorporated into the development.

    What first initiated this conversation we are having today were statements by Mr. Koch that the developer had realized that the sign – at 3 stories tall and 30ft wide – was now too big for the development and needed to be moved off site. Statements like that run contrary to promises in the articles. The sign has not grown since the Alamo was torn down so one wonders what has changed except the passing of time.

    I’m happy now that the community is involved in this discussion and that they are paying attention. I hope they read these articles so that they have the back story that provides the history and expectations for the iconic sign. It’s nice to know that many – including the author of this post – are watching and feel a sense of protection and affection for the sign.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/dallas/headlines/20101214-alamo-plaza-an-oak-cliff-landmark-falls-to-wrecking-ball-today.ece

    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/dallas/headlines/20100723-oak-cliff_s-historic-alamo-plaza-motel-to-say-lively-goodbye-with-benefit.ece

  7. Michael – you’re taking joking comments I made to my friend Avi on my personal Facebook wall out of context. Yes, I said it’s really big. And I also said it’s too big to stay, where/as it stands now, on the property. I did not say that we needed to move it off the site or out of the development because of its size. In fact, I said that there are places that we could put it, but that other options off-site have been suggested to us by others that may allow it to be more high-profile and beneficial to the surrounding community.

    We, too, are happy that the community is involved in the discussion. We all understand and appreciate the community’s affection for the sign. And by asking the community at large how they’d like it to be given new life, we feel that we’re doing a positive thing to respect that affection.

  8. Could you entertain the option of leaving it as is? That has been suggested…

  9. Except that the sign is not in Oak Cliff. It’s in West Dallas. You stayed on your side of the freeway for more than 60 years, Cliffsters. It’s a little too late to start claiming YOU’RE the ones getting screwed.

  10. There was no freeway when this motel and sign were built. The dividing line was Ft. Worth Ave.

  11. There was no freeway when this motel and sign were built. The dividing line was Ft. Worth Ave.

  12. For someone catching up on the respective stances held by both sides;
    Preservationists, why is the idea of the sign being put up again in a different location on the development a bad one? Assuming they haven’t already/why couldn’t the group looking to preserve the sign try to procure it from the developer? Moreover, (assuming this wasn’t broached already) why weren’t the rights to the sign negotiated in writing by those looking to preserve it?

    As for the Sylvan/Thirty group-couldn’t you have simply stated the sign was taken down temporarily for the construction period for “liability reasons to protect it from damage”? Then, use the next 12-18 months to brainstorm with the good people who are so emotionally invested in the sign? ^Is this idea/tactic too far gone to use *now* in hopes of finding a solution :) ??