Why Towering Cranes Are Dallas’ Most Beautiful Sight

Steel masts on the horizon are the most visible sign of developers’ optimism. It’s clear from a quick glance out the nearest window that the mood right now could be described as “relentlessly positive.” For many, it’s reminiscent of the early ’80s when, as the joke went, construction cranes were the state bird of Texas. Dallas had flocks of them. 

Reno Russell moved to town during that era and spent the next four years erecting cranes. One of his first gigs was on the build of The Crescent. These days, Russell works as a regional salesman for Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. On average, contractors pay $18,000 to $20,000 each month to rent a tower crane—the stationary, T-shape type more commonly used in city centers. Typically, a 20-story building needs a crane for a year. Not many developers buy them. It costs about $1 million. 

In April, Bigge’s 10th tower crane in North Texas went up in Victory Park, just south of American Airlines Center. By mid-summer, Russell expects to have 15 to 20 tower cranes up in North Texas; three years ago, he had one. The Victory Park crane will lift everything from tools to concrete, up to 10 tons at a time, to build a multifamily high-rise plus a movie theater. And though 37-foot concrete piers were drilled and poured into the bedrock to keep it fixed in place, the crane doesn’t require a city permit. It’s considered as temporary as a porta-potty.

Russell does, however, have permits for lane closure and noise ordinance. He figures as the crane is going up, 30 to 40 neighbors will call the police. What these people may not realize, though, is that this steel structure is a 300-foot emblem of a thriving city.

Get the D CEO Newsletter