DALLAS — With its pristine grounds and stunning foliage on the shore of White Rock Lake, the Dallas Arboretum is an absolutely beautiful neighbor to have.
But it is the kind of neighbor that comes with a crowd... and lots of cars.
"We're desperate for parking," admitted John Armstrong, the Arboretum's vice president of property development.
So the garden center is growing up. Armstrong, architects, and Gloria Tapley, a member of the Dallas Plan Commission, unveiled the design of a 1,200-space parking garage planned to be built on Garland Road.
The structure adheres to all zoning guidelines. Four stories are planned for above ground with an additional two below.
And it will be connected to the Arboretum by an tunnel that runs under Garland Road.
"We have a checkered history with the Arboretum; they haven't always played on the up-and-up," said neighbor Kelly Cotten. "I think it's right to come to these meetings with some cautious suspicion."
Protests sparked last summer after a proposal to add Arboretum parking by paving over part of White Rock Lake's Winfrey Point. The proposal failed, and the community felt bitter, complaining they had been left out of the planning process.
The meeting Tuesday night gave residents a look at the proposal, which does not yet have a dollar sign attached to it. No city money will be spent on the parking facility, though.
Cotten lives on Angora Street, which runs parallel to Garland Road. The proposed new garage would back up to Angora.
There is already a sign posted which warns Arboretum patrons not to park there.
"Certainly this parking garage helps alleviate all or most of that," said Armstrong, who is trying to control overflow parking of patrons on neighborhood streets.
The garage is expected to be several feet shorter than an AT&T building which is just two doors down the street. It was built before zoning ordinances on Garland Road changed.
Cotten said he's not afraid of the size of the garage, because he knows architects can make it look good. He's just concerned about the impact on his neighborhood.
"It depends on how they design it. The devil is in the details," he said.
The garage still must get approval from the Plan Commission and then the City Council.