Grand Opening Tuesday for New Harwood Park in Downtown Dallas – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Creating paradise from a paved parking lot – that’s what happens in downtown Dallas.
On Tuesday, the City of Dallas and a local nonprofit, Parks for Downtown Dallas, are inaugurating a brand new park just blocks from the Dallas Farmers Market.
The area around what will soon be Harwood Park currently looks like a concrete jungle, with vacant buildings and an empty, crumbling parking lot.
But the goal is to reclaim the land to transform it into a beautiful green space.
“It’s an exciting time. The result will have a significant impact on downtown life, ”said Robert Decherd, president of Parks for Downtown Dallas.
Harwood Park will be the final park in the Four Priority Parks program, which is part of a larger master plan that Parks for Downtown Dallas has been working with the City of Dallas on for almost 20 years.
“These are four parks that were identified in the 2013 update of the downtown parks master plan. But in reality, they’re part of a 20-year effort that began with the realization in the early 2000s that we had a porosity of green space in downtown Dallas. And there was no plan to meet this challenge, ”Decherd said.
Decherd, longtime owner of the Dallas Morning News, comes from a family with a long history with the city. They have witnessed decades of transformation in Dallas and now the rest of us will witness more of this park’s plan.
“There was never a plan for downtown parks. So when the first master plan or town plan was developed in the 1910s and 1920s, most of Dallas’ parks were built outside of downtown. The center was so densely developed that you couldn’t find a place to build a park and you couldn’t afford it because you would displace an active commercial interest, ”he said.
In the early 2000s, city leaders at the time took a look at what the city plans to build or develop parks in downtown Dallas. They were surprised to find that there was none.
“One thing that was honestly an advantage was the decline in real estate in the 1980s and 1990s. It made land affordable,” Decherd explained. “What had been buildings were, as you know, parking lots. So we invoked the reverse of the Joni Mitchell line and said, we can take these parking lots and convert them into beautiful green spaces that’s what we call neighborhood city parks.
Hardwood Park will be nearly 4 acres. It will feature a playground with gigantic sculptures, a rain garden and other natural features meant to pay homage to what the field looked like before Dallas became Dallas.
“It’s a return to the original state if you will. They were meadows. But when Dallas was first built in the 19th century, it was a collection of businesses and businesses, all clustered together with railroad tracks and highway transaction centers in the city as it grew. its growth, ”Decherd said.
While Harwood Park leads the way on Tuesday, another nearby park has been under construction for a year as part of the same plan.
Carpenter Park will turn into a key connection between downtown, Deep Ellum and East Dallas – with gardens, a dog park, a children’s playground, a basketball court and an interactive water fountain.
Other parks that are part of the plan include Pacific Plaza and West End Square, both of which have opened in the past two years.
“When we look at where we started in 2002 – which led to the first downtown parks master plan in 2004 – in total, we will have collectively built 23 acres of new parks in the freeway loop. This is what is so unusual. This is what no other city has done, ”Decherd said. “It’s a very unusual program. There isn’t another city in the United States of our size and density that has successfully implemented a parks program like this. “
Once construction is completed on the remaining parks, the spaces will be owned and operated by the city.
Parks for Downtown Dallas said he plans to be a long-term downtown parks steward.
“We are raising funds to create permanent endowments that complement the upkeep and upkeep of these parks so that they will be as beautiful and welcoming 10, 15 and 50 years from now,” Decherd said.
Here is where you can learn more about the effort.