Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remaking Montgomery Ward

Okay, so I'm not a huge fan of Dallas area. I don't dislike the places it houses (the Galleria especially) or the weather, but every time I'm there I feel like it's just one big highway with tons of flanking, interconnected access roads.

And that may just be because my sister, Mario Andretti Jr., likes to drive on the highway or it may be because the highway is the most efficient way to get around.

At any rate, my sister recently moved to a new area of town in Fort Worth and on a grocery run, I found myself looking at this, but from ground level and not so much a drawing:

Wait, let me see if I can find a picture. (I wanted to take a picture of it myself but with a hungry Danica Patrick at the wheel, there simply wasn't time.) Okay, this isn't much better, but it's something.



Montgomery Plaza is an old Montgomery Ward building that was constructed in 1928 to be the largest building in Texas. It was partially destroyed in a tornado in 2000 and Montgomery Ward took the damage as an opportunity to move out.

Now it has retail on the ground floor, residential space on the higher floors, a sweeping avenue between the two sides of the building that you can drive through, and a Super Target hiding behind it (from the street, you can't see the Target or its massive parking lot at all, which is nice).

I don't get the impression that the residential portion was complete yet — I think it might come online at the end of this year — but the retail and commercial space seems to be bustling. I have to say, all in all, it was fairly impressive.

I'm not saying that a project like this would work here — frankly, I'm beginning to wonder about a glut of housing in Memphis — but it does remind me of a certain large, former department store sitting empty in Midtown.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I recall on early summer evenings when I was stuck downtown I'd go up to the roof and look eastward across the green carpet of trees that characterize Memphis from a certain altitude. And there, a few notable structures defined the view: to the east, the ghostly Parkview apartments, the rust-colored University of Memphis library tower, and the Sears Crosstown building. It's a beautiful old building that really strikes an aesthetic and sentimental silhouette but also seems to be perpetually doomed to obsolescence. Is it asbestos, or lack of a market, or is it haunted by the ghosts of Sears shoppers past? It really seems like if we could find a use for that now redundant big shiny building on the river we could also find a good use for the Crosstown building.