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New Southern Downtown Park is on the boards, due in late 2020

November 14, 2018

An L-shaped acre on Downtown’s southern side will turn from gray to green in a few years, providing another slice of programmed park space to a burgeoning area of new residential development that also holds a law school, office buildings and churches.

The Downtown Redevelopment Authority has hired Lauren Griffith Associates to design the new Southern Downtown park at the site of what is currently a Goodyear Auto Service Center. The land is bounded by Bell, San Jacinto, Leeland and Fannin Streets. A quarter of the block will remain a parking lot for South Texas College of Law.

The design phase is expected to be completed by July, with construction of the new park beginning later next year.

An early rendering of proposed amenities shows a cafe; a dog park; defined open spaces with a stage, a ‘game room’ and a sustainable garden. Those elements — so successfully implemented a few blocks away at Discovery Green — have become the standards of “placemaking” at every new park eked out of the densifying city and were identified with help from the Project for Public Spaces.

During community meetings earlier this year, area stakeholders said they wanted a green and shaded “backyard” that would have room for concerts, outdoor exercise space for people and dogs, safe pedestrian and bicycle connections, interactive water features and functional art.

Griffith has participated in the design of many of Downtown’s other public spaces, including Discovery Green, Market Square Park, Sesquicentennial Park and the Central Library’s Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza.

Authority president Bob Eury cited her team’s track record of creating “beautiful and active public spaces” as well as its ability to bring innovative ideas to the table. Gensler will design the structures, including the fast-casual restaurant. The team also includes Gandy2 Lighting Design, Kuo & Associates civil engineers and Waterscape Consultants. A’La Carte Foodservice Consulting Group is working with the authority on the scope of the cafe.

The Southern Downtown Park project fulfills a key recommendation of Plan Downtown, a 20-year vision plan for the area, where about 1,500 new residential units have been added since 2012. (Some are still under construction or in the planning stage.)

The design phase is expected to last through July 2019, with a projected park opening in October 2020. Once completed, the space will be managed and programmed by the Downtown District, which also operates Market Square Park.

molly.glentzer@chron.com

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