Dallas Convention Center Hotel should be built on building’s south side


Plans for a Dallas Convention Center hotel are moving forward, and mayor Tom Leppert would like to see it built before the Super Bowl comes to town in 2011. While the city looks into financing the project, the discussion will soon move to where the hotel should be located.

For those who have dared to dream of a hotel constructed near the convention center, the vision usually includes a structure on the “front” or downtown side of the building. In my mind, I’ve always thought the same thing.

But over the weeks that have passed since I wrote a Dallas Morning News article on this subject, another potential site has emerged. Imagine if you will a hotel erected on the southern side of the convention center. For the sake of this post, use Eddie Deen’s Ranch as a reference point.

In the Viewpoints column that I wrote for The News, I made the following argument:

Convention visitors judge a host city by what goes on each day after the meetings are over. Where do we eat? Is there anywhere to shop? How long does it take to get to the hottest night spot?

consider (San Diego’s) Gaslamp Quarter, within walking distance of the convention center. There conventioneers find top-notch dining spots, shopping outlets, night clubs and live music spots. After a day full of workshops and meetings, the Gaslamp offers a great place to unwind.

A hotel built on the North side of the convention center would have to start from scratch to create a place for conventioneers to go after hours. Either that or find a way to connect with revitalization efforts on Main Street downtown.

Just south of the convention center an entertainment district already exists and the area continues to blossom. Anchored by the South Side on Lamar Lofts, Lamar Avenue offers plenty to do for visitors in search of post meeting fare.

Hotel occupants leaving a southern location would literally spill across I-30 into Gilley’s Dallas and The Palladium Ballroom. Brooklyn Jazz Cafe is about a quarter mile from this proposed site. There are a number of other destinations already in the area.

  • Studio Bar and Grill

Couple these businesses with the diverse residency of the South Side Lofts and The Beat Condos currently under construction, and you have the makings of a round the clock destination. There is plenty of space along Lamar to add to the mix of retail, residential, office, and entertainment that already exists.

A hotel located on the convention center’s south side would have easy access to I-30 and sit only yards away from the DART rail’s Convention Center Station. Another advantage of this sites is that it is near the middle of the DCC, so convention visitors would never have to trek the full length of the building to get to and from their rooms.

When developers in the area look at a map, they draw a line at I-30 and refuse to look at anything South of that point. Yet the progress on South Lamar shows that this does not have to be the case. I strongly support the Trinity Bridges designed by Santiago Calatrava, but a hotel located on the DCC’s south side would serve as a stronger financial link between downtown and Southern Dallas.

The taxpayer funded American Airlines Center has created a vibrant new entertainment district at Victory Park. Money that the city has invested in redeveloping the Mercantile Building will pay big dividends for Main Street and the Dallas’ downtown core. Now it’s time for South Lamar -with a little help from City Hall- to realize its full potential.

The convention center hotel should be built on the southern side of the Dallas Convention Center. For politicians who have pledged to support economic development in Southern Dallas this is a chance to prove their words are more than hollow, campaign season promises.


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