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Dallas Deck Park Snags $9 Million in Donations

by Ken Kalthoff

Another $9 million in combined contributions from several families was announced Thursday for the Woodall Rodgers deck park in Dallas.

The park bridging the Woodall Rodgers Freeway between downtown and Uptown near the Arts District, is under construction.

The $9 million in donations announced Thursday will help pay for amenities in the park once construction is complete, including a pavilion, a concert venue and a dog park.

"Mitch and I are convinced that this will change the face of Dallas and the life of its citizens more than anything else," donor Linda Hart said.

The foundation building the park is still seeking an additional $17 million to complete the entire $110 million vision of the park before it opens in fall 2012.

But the group does have enough money to complete construction. The construction money pot includes $56.7 million from federal, state and local taxpayer funds.

"I think this is a great example of how we're going to have to do projects in the future," Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said. "There's not enough public money, so what it's going to take is engaging people in the community."

Even before it opens, the park is already attracting people and investment to the area, boosters say.

Big residential projects include the Museum Tower high-rise condominium under construction and the Gables Park 17 Apartment building that opened last year.

Shae Sims of Gables Residential said the park is a major part of the building's appeal.

"It really feels like a central park in Dallas, which we've never had," Sims said.

One bedroom rent at the Gables Park 17 starts at about $1,800 a month, but the company reports the building is already about 57 percent leased.

"It's gone a lot quicker than we thought it would, especially with the changes in the economy," Sims said. "One of the things that's really boosted it for us is the lifestyle we can offer."

The nearby Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center that have turned their back to the freeway are now drafting plans to make better connections with visitors at the neighboring Woodall Rodgers Park.

"I think what it's going to do over the next few years is elevate this entire area, and then you're going to see the real development come," Leppert said.

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