How Might Kalita Humphreys Theater, Dean Park Project Be Funded?

The new proposal for restoring the Kalita Humphreys Theater and redeveloping Dean Park surrounding it could cost about $300 million, according to a new master plan for the project from the Dallas Theater Center.

The cost has risen from $25 million, the cost of a 2010 master plan that focused on restoring the theater to its original 1950s design, which called for up to 60% of the funding to come from the city of Dallas and the rest from private fundraising, which was never approved by the city council, the Dallas Morning News reported. 

Some on the Dallas Park and Recreation board have concerns about the cost. They’re expected to receive a briefing from the Dallas Theater Center on the master plan later this month. 

“I certainly do acknowledge that improvements are needed … it’s practically universally accepted that the Kalita itself needs a complete, major overhaul,,” said Dallas Park and Recreation board member Rudy Karimi, whose district covers parts of the Oak Lawn area, Turtle Creek, and Uptown where the theater is located. “But we’ve seen the scale and just recently, we saw the cost … what it boils down to for me is from a personal perspective, I am strongly opposed to the gross commercialization of our parks.”

The city council tasked the Dallas Theater Center with coming up with the current master plan in 2019. 

Dallas Theater Center Executive Director Kevin Moriarty said he anticipates the bulk of the funding will come from private fundraising by the Dallas Theater Center, and he hopes some funding will come from a new bond package that could be put to voters in 2024. 

“The City has many essential priorities, which we understand and support, so this will require DTC to embark on an ambitious fundraising effort. This will be challenging but (we) are willing to take on this responsibility, and we believe the project will inspire support from a wide variety of stakeholders,” Moriarty said. “We understand that the funding will need to come largely from a broad-based coalition of the private sector and we do not expect bond funding to exceed a 5 to 1 match of private to public funding.”

The expanded scope of the project, the theater center and the design studio tasked with heading up the project say, is meant to help better connect the theater and Dean Park to the Katy Trail and surrounding neighborhoods, and encourage more public use of the area.

The theater in the 3600 block of Turtle Creek Boulevard that opened in 1959 is the only theater built that was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was designated a Dallas landmark in 2005.

The Kalita was built for the Dallas Theater Center, which donated it to the city in 1974, and in turn, leased it back to the Dallas Theater Center.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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