Monday, September 8, 2014

Elsie Hotpepper Helped Me Learn How Fort Worth Became The Top Downtown In America

Yesterday Elsie Hotpepper text messaged me telling me to check out the Sundance Square Facebook page.

I always do what Elsie tells me to do.

I'd already blogged about the subject Elsie was pointing me to in a blogging from early September titled Mr. & Mrs. Galtex Are In Argentina Where They Learned Fort Worth Has America's Top Downtown.

In that blogging I wondered what demented entity deemed Fort Worth's to be the Top Downtown in America.


That to which Elsie Hotpepper pointed me quickly had me understanding that no entity deemed Fort Worth's to be the Top Downtown in America. This bogus claim is just one more example of the same embarrassing propaganda puffery that pervades this part of America

The Sundance Square Facebook page had a link to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article titled Sundance Square wins top downtown award for new plaza.

So, while it may be sort of true that an entity did award an aspect of downtown Fort Worth an award, that entity did not in any way indicate that Fort Worth has the Top Downtown in America. The award was for downtown Fort Worth's tiny plaza known as Sundance Square Plaza.

The entity making this prestigious award which has sent Fort Worth into a spasm of city wide celebrating is the International Downtown Association. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either.

You can go to the IDA website and read the list of their 2014 Pinnacle Award winners. Note the words "list" and "winners" indicating more than one Pinnacle Award winner.

Multiple towns won Pinnacle Awards from the IDA. But only one of those towns, near as I can tell, is spewing propaganda claiming that due to this award that town's downtown is the Top Downtown in America. Most towns have a real newspaper, not a propaganda purveyor like the Star-Telegram, so such nonsense does not get spewed.

Three paragraphs from the Star-Telegram article...

“Each year, the IDA awards jury honors the very best programs and projects in each category to recognize great work and most importantly to set the standard for best practice in our industry. The Sundance Square Plaza is a wonderful example for all cities to emulate.”

The 1-acre plaza, which opened in November, received one of two Pinnacle Awards. The other went to the Wichita Downtown Development Corp. for a $500,000 downtown master plan. Seven merit awards were also given.

“The addition of the plaza created a centerpiece in downtown Fort Worth that has quickly become a destination for North Texas residents and visitors from all around the world,” Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square, said in a statement.

So, Fort Worth is sharing an award category with Wichita and that town's downtown master plan? And Fort Worth's teeny downtown plaza is something all cities should emulate? Yes, I can see towns all over the planet copying Fort Worth's little downtown plaza, except for all those towns which already have downtown plazas. And most ridiculous, this plaza has become a destination for the people of North Texas and visitors from around the world?

Sundance Square Plaza is a perfectly fine thing, I'm not suggesting otherwise. And it is a huge improvement over the parking lots which Fort Worth's few out of town visitors thought were Sundance Square. But this plaza is NOT some sort of special destination drawing anyone to it.

How did the International Downtown Association learn about the wonder which is Sundance Square Plaza I am sure you are wondering.


Apparently Sundance Square submitted Sundance Square Plaza for consideration for this prestigious award which permits a town to claim to be the Top Downtown in America.

Now, I really do not think there is anything wrong about entering something you represent into any sort of award competition.


You can read the Sundance Square Plaza Award Submission document in its entirety, a reading of which will have you seeing the award submission is full of the patented propaganda puffery of the sort the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is notorious for.

Two paragraphs from the Award Submission propaganda to illustrate the propaganda point....

Sundance Square Plaza has been an enormous success, attracting thousands of visitors weekly, including many families with children. The project has also boosted the success of restaurants and retail stores in Sundance Square, led to new soft-goods retail leases in adjacent buildings and helped attract commercial leases in the new office buildings. In its first six months of operation, Sundance Square Plaza hosted an elaborate Christmas celebration, a huge (even though unadvertised) New Year’s Eve Celebration and the four-day MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival. In March, ESPN used Sundance Square Plaza as its broadcast headquarters during coverage of the NCAA Final Four. The Plaza also hosts regular events such as morning yoga, outdoor movie nights for families and a free Sunday Jazz Series.

Here’s another proof of success: out-of-town developers are asking DFWI, “How close can I get to the Plaza?” Hotel and multifamily developers are now jockeying for position near the Plaza. A modestly performing, historic Class C office building one block away has been purchased, and plans are underway to convert it into a boutique hotel. New market pressure has been added to the center of downtown, adding demand four streets away where there was none before – purely because the plaza is perceived as such a valuable attraction and developers want their projects to be within walking distance.

This plaza is one acre in size. Do you know how big one acre is? Not very big. This little plaza attracts thousands of visitors weekly? Including many families? With children?

I think Mr. Galtex, he being who first let me know that Fort Worth now had the Top Downtown in America, said it best when he opined the following....

For the life of me, I've never been able to figure out why the Fort Worth locals are not content to simply say they have a nice downtown, a good this, and a swell that, instead of labeling everything with ridiculous superlatives. Fort Worth would be even nicer without a chip on its shoulder.

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