Feb 22, 2022 - News

Downtown Dallas cemetery in the crosshairs

Cemetery downtown
Council member Cara Mendelsohn says she's heard visitors mock Dallas' downtown cemetery. Photo: Tasha Tsiaperas/Axios

A 173-year-old cemetery filled with the graves of Dallas founders may stand in the way of redevelopment downtown.

Why it matters: Pioneer Park Cemetery sits on a hill above the massive Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center that city leaders want to raze to make way for a multi-billion-dollar development.

Driving the news: This month the Dallas City Council approved the plan to build a convention center and start a yearlong effort to design options for the new development.

  • The plan calls for entrances facing downtown and the Cedars. Now, the convention center entrances face... well... the cemetery.

What they're saying: During a briefing on the convention center, several council members asked how the cemetery will be incorporated into the design or moved.

  • "Across the nation people make fun of Dallas for having a cemetery outside of its convention center," council member Cara Mendelsohn said during a briefing on Jan. 18.
  • She clarified in an email to Axios that she meant "people in the convention and events industry." She suggests moving the graves to Heritage Village.

Yes, but: The approved convention center plan would mean the "cemetery will no longer be at the 'front door,'" according to city staff.

  • The design could include park space that incorporates the cemetery with pathways among the graves.

Of note: Moving the cemetery would require approval from the city’s Landmark Commission and possibly approval or coordination with "state and federal historic agencies," city staff said in a memo to council members.

Our thought bubble: Dallas is known for tearing down its history and chasing the dream of something shiny and new. The cemetery could be preserved in a new convention center plan to highlight how much the scrappy city has grown.

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