Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Update: Collin County Performance Hall

Not Collin County
From 2006 06 Salzburg

Do you remember the opening scene in "The Sound of Music" where Julie Andrews runs through an alpine meadow singing the movie's theme song? Well, if Julie Andrews ever comes to Collin County to give a concert, it'll be the same story here. Only without the scenery. She'll have to find some open cotton field to sing in because there aren't any alpine meadows ... or first class concert halls.

A long-troubled plan to build a performance hall in Collin County took one more step towards extinction this week. Originally called the "Arts of Collin County," it was troubled from the start, when voters in McKinney decided not to participate. Somewhere along the way, it was renamed the "Arts Center of North Texas." Then, last year, voters in Frisco voted to pull out, leaving only Plano and Allen.

After the jump, this week's bad news.

This week, Plano and Allen asked for a list of assets of the project, presumably to plan to liquidate and dissolve the project. Given that the land itself makes up a big part of the assets, and will probably be returned to its donor and targeted for other redevelopment, Julie Andrews might find herself without even an open cotton field in Collin County to perform in.

That's where Richardson comes in. A year ago, when I first blogged about Collin County's troubles, I saw Richardson's Eisemann Center as a potential winner. Julie Andrews can perform here in Richardson in a performance hall up to the demands of world-class musical performances.

In response to that blog post a year ago, I learned something about the Eisemann Center that might do a little to raise the spirits of arts lovers in Collin County. The Collin County line is farther south than I realized. In fact, it runs right through the center of Richardson's Eisemann Center! So, arts lovers of Collin County, come on down. Park in the adjoining parking garage, attend a concert in the Hill Performance Hall, maybe even use the rest rooms and do it all without ever leaving Collin County, right here in Richardson.


dc-tm said...

At least the voters in the Collin County cities decided whether the "amenity" was worth the expense or not. The same can't be said for the Eisemann center. Perhaps the voters in the Collin County cities don't think Entertainment centers are worth the multi-million dollar losses like those that Richardson has experienced. Who can argue with voters making he choice?

The voters' choice in Collin County will not worsen the bottom line at the Eisemann Center, but make it not as bad as it could have been.

Anonymous said...

I think Collin County is wise and Richardson was foolish.

I bet the peak of live performance theaters was in the early 1900s and steadily declined with the arrival of radio, movies, television, cable television, computer games and the internet.

No matter when I go to the library or the rec center I see a crowd. The Eisemann center is unoccupied many days a week. And it has the best location on the DART rail. What a waste.

Mark Steger said...

Fred Schwab, you put your finger on a problem. The Eisemann Center is a gemstone with an unexciting setting. As I said a year ago ...

The Eisemann is surrounded by a hotel, office buildings, apartments and a light rail station. Unfortunately, the thing that's missing is a critical omission: street life. Come to Galatyn Park for Wildflower! (May 20-22, 2011) and see what Galatyn Park can be with street life. But the architecture lacks the restaurants and shops to keep even a little of that street life year round. And that's a huge flaw in Galatyn Park.

jgwagg said...

Mark, did you see Patrick Kennedy's critique of the Eisemann?

Mark Steger said...

Yes. Kennedy was critiquing the neighborhood surrounding the Eisemann, not the Eisemann itself. He graded it "Incomplete" with a fear that even when it was all filled in, it still would not come to life. I share his concern.

Nathan Morgan said...

The project didn't get any traction in Collin County for the same good reasons it would not have if it were not done under the veil of secrecy in Richardson.

Eisemann, like others that have come and gone before, has been the source of a colossal sucking sound on the fiscal resources of Richardson.

Replete with shady land deals, commingled private interests and astronomical cost overruns, the venue that bears the name of the Richardson Coalition's patriarch has become the poster child for projects that should have never been built.

The debt torrent unleashed by the social elite art fairies in town will continue to wash out possibilities to tend to other community needs, foregone by the blind ambition of a few with the help of the Richardson Coalition's political choices.

Mark Steger said...

P.S. to arts lovers of Collin County: When you do come on down to enjoy one of the fine productions at the Eisemann Center, stick around to enjoy any of the many other amenities Richardson has to offer -- a growing diversity of restaurants, parks, recreation centers, hike and bike trails, employment opportunities, and one of the best universities in the area, UT-Dallas. Oh, and we've got DART, too, with more and more transit-oriented development every year. The Eisemann Center isn't the key to all this, but it certainly hasn't hurt. The possibilities are endless.

Nathan Morgan said...

Focus has been on attracting high profile bragging rights and little on a quality of life meaningful to today's individual demands.

There's nothing in Richardson that can't be found within a block outside the city limit, except relatively high municipal debt, an unusually high degree of neglected infrastructure and an entitlement mentality of a whole bunch of senior citizen retired folk who have taken over the town.

Richardson has a whole lot of potential stifled by a whole lot of spending and debt from failed commercial initiatives.

No young person wants to be stuck in a town with a stodgy character and personality. The vacuum can't be ignored.