Posted on May 13, 2013 at 5:29 PM
DOWNTOWN – A Dallas councilman suggests the solution to Dallas’ tepid tourism is to build a canal through the heart of downtown.
“Let’s put some water down Main Street,” Councilman Dwaine Caraway says. “Boom! You have tourism! You have happy folks!”
The idea may seem ridiculous, but he insists he’s serious. It turns out a downtown canal is something city leaders have considered as a way to revitalize the core.
“It’s not out of the blue,” said John Crawford with Downtown Dallas, Inc, a civic group charged with bringing more businesses to downtown. “It’s something that has come up… and we’ve looked at it seriously before.”
Other cities have relied on canals to boost tourism. San Antonio’s famous River Walk is what jumps to most Texans’ minds. Yet Oklahoma City spent millions of dollars to tear up downtown streets and alleys in the late 1990s to build a mile-long canal through an abandoned warehouse district.
The area, known as Bricktown, since blossomed and now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
“This is not a joke at all,” Caraway insists. “This is something serious. This is long-range vision!”
Yet Crawford says after an exhaustive study, he’s largely dismissed the idea of a canal. It’s simply unfeasible, he says, and would cause massive traffic and infrastructure problems. The street likely isn’t large enough to hold a canal, he says, and it would greatly impact some of the historic properties.
“It’s not practical,” Crawford says.
Indeed, skeptics wandering downtown’s streets aren’t hard to find.
“Fix the little stuff, and then get to the big stuff,” said Jamie Huffman, who works downtown but lives in Fort Worth. She encourages Dallas to look to its neighbor for inspiration.
“Fort Worth and Dallas are as different as day and night,” she said. “Dallas could learn a lot by visiting Fort Worth –– not San Antonio.”
Caraway still hasn’t lost hope. If anything, he wants city leaders discussing big ideas to solve some of Dallas’ lingering problems.
“Let’s try to be creative,” Caraway encourages. “It just takes a little water- we have a lot of water!”