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Feeling ‘Pressure’ in the Nasher/Tower Fight

The people behind Museum Tower are on a PR blitz to air “their side” in that nasty ongoing flap with the Nasher Sculpture Center. (See Tim’s cover story for the spat’s complete history.) Recently the tower people took their arguments to the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News. They also opened up the luxury-condo building itself to various reporters (including me). Now they’ve run a full-page ad in the DMN urging the Nasher to accept the tower’s “solution” to the famous glare problem. Their fix: reconfigure the oculi cones on the Nasher roof so they point in a different direction, all on the tower’s dime. As for glare damaging the Nasher garden and the rest of the arts district? The tower people insist the garden is just fine—and reflectivity is a necessary “feature of life” in an urban environment.

When the oculi solution was first proposed, the Nasher dismissed it quickly as a publicity stunt. As a result Greg Greene, a partner at Turtle Creek Holdings and an original developer of the tower, says: “I’d like it if the Nasher felt a little bit of public pressure to at least try this.” Thus, apparently, the media tear.

Whichever side you support in this standoff—and most seem to back the Nasher—two points in the tower’s argument are fascinating. 1.) They contend their oculi roof fix represents a technological advancement over what was available to Nasher developer Renzo Piano back when the center went up. “His concept was simple,” Greene says. “Ours does a better job.” 2.) Greene says that Mark Banta, the now-departed president of Klyde Warren Park, phoned him before Banta left the job and said, “I’m under pressure from the Nasher to complain about [glare from the tower]. But, it’s not hurting our plants. I don’t see how it could, and I refuse to say something I don’t believe.” We reached out to both Banta and the Nasher for comment, but so far neither has responded.

UPDATE: Responding to what she calls Museum Tower’s “$40,000″ full-page ad, Nasher spokeswoman Jill Magnuson tells us, “Once again, the owners of Museum Tower … have demonstrated that they would prefer to dissipate the resources of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System with an expensive propaganda campaign intended to mislead the public rather than accept responsibility for the problem they’ve created and fix their building.” Regarding Banta she says, “I’m sure it was hard for him as the Museum Tower was a sponsor of the Park and the major sponsor for opening weekend for them.” She adds that Park visitors noticed the tower’s glare on opening weekend, according to a WFAA-TV story, and that “we did provide Mr. Banta with our sun reflection studies upon his first month on the job so that he could determine for himself if he would have any impact that he would need to prepare for.”

  • Brett Moore

    Museum Tower is soliciting comment on their proposed solution on this website:

    http://www.oculisolution.com/contact.php

    Even including the fairly obvious sock puppets, public opinion thus far certainly seems to be pretty clearly in favor of the Nasher.

  • Frank Wright

    On a sad but related note, Dr. Cyrus Cantrell, the UTD professor consulting for Museum Tower, passed away today from pancreatic cancer.

  • Frank Wright

    Um sorry. Just catching up with the news after a bit of travel. He passed away last week.

  • Iwannaknow

    Who are the PR firms on either side? I’ll bet it’s the usually firms – and they’re all making a butt load!

  • Kk.

    Some number crunching genius needs to estimate the dollars if the museum tower had done one of the fixes to the tower in the first 3 months of the issue coming to “light”, then sold out the condos at their original expected sale price within say 8 months – vs – the $$ they’ve spent on consultants, lawyers, PR hacks, studies, media buying and most importantly sitting empty except for a handful of apartments sold at whatever cut rate price they’ve gotten (with a money back guarantee). Selling those apartments way back then at a price they’ll never get now, plus what I’m sure are exorbitant home owners dues they’re missing out on, utilities they’re eating, those would be interesting numbers to compare. On top of that, they’ve created huge ill will with the citizens of Dallas in general and arts patrons in particular. If they don’t fix the tower they’ll never live down the ironic joke that is the name “Museum” Tower. The fact that they’ve done all this with the fire and police pension fund money doesn’t make people want to give them slack, it further enrages people, makes it seem that much more egregious. Unbelievably bad choices they keep making, it just gets worse and worse.

  • Neal K

    If some especially wealthy and vindictive Nasher benefactors want to exact revenge on the tower, they should buy 10 or 15 units, wait a few months, and enforce the buyback — thereby either draining the tower’s ownership of its available cash or forcing it into receivership or bankruptcy.