It’s always a really good day for me when I get to show CityWalk to someone. I do this pretty often. Sometimes it’s a possible funder; sometimes it’s a community partner; sometimes I’m trying to sell or lease space and sometimes it’s just somebody that asked. Now, with the demolition completed, temporary power and a lift to the fifteenth floor, it’s pretty easy. But it wasn’t always that way.
Living in the big city (which Dallas is to me), you can get blasé. When there are dozens of taller buildings, then a fifteen-story building doesn’t seem so large, at least from the outside. But when you get inside the building and start looking around, then you realize that a high rise building is an incredible expression of human ingenuity. You also realize that it’s big and tall—especially if you’re going to the top.
When we first owned the building there were no lights and the elevators didn’t work. If you wanted, or needed, to get to the roof of the building then you had to climb fifteen stories of stairs (actually sixteen since the first floor is double height) in the dark. That’s a pretty daunting task unless you are young and in good condition (I’m neither).
The main stairway is in the center of the building and without lights you had to depend on a flashlight to make your way. When I was in the building alone, which happened occasionally, I always made sure to take at least two flashlights, sometimes three, and my cell phone. A flashlight going out or spraining an ankle could have had serious consequences. It was like caving.
The higher you climbed, the easier it was to get disoriented as to the floor you were on. And while every floor was laid out a little differently, if you lost count it wasn’t always easy to figure out what floor it was. Finding a specific place in the building was like solving a labyrinth. Cryptic signs to long gone tenants were your only clue.
Finally, you would reach the 14th floor. For reasons we never found out, the previous owner had cleared this floor so it was open and light. It was almost impossible to resist going over to the west windows to see the view (and catch your breath). The whole city is laid out before you. The Trinity River, Old Red (the old Dallas Courthouse), most of Oak Cliff and West Dallas are in view. To the north you can see Victory, the American Airlines Arena and Uptown.
Catch your breath, then climb the final two stairs to the roof. Out on the roof the wind will be blowing and the sun shining. Even at only fifteen stories, you tower above the city. Now the views open out in all directions and you look down on roof top gardens and pools. Now you can see the life of the city from an entirely different perspective.