The Park at Palm Center located at Griggs Road and Beekman Street has a varied history. Years ago the one acre tract was part of Palm Center, one of the city's first shopping malls that thrived with commerce in its heyday. But a population shift to other areas in Houston resulted in the anchor stores moving, and that reduced the mall to a memory. Over the years through a series of acquisitions, the tract was established by the Houston Parks Department in 2008. It opened the door for new ideas, thanks to a recent $100K grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. UH research professor Carroll Parrot Blue says over 400 cities across the country applied for the prestigious grant.
"Only 51 cities were chosen and of the 51 cities, Houston was one of the cities that was chosen to work to bring arts, new technologies, all together to work with city planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, to do something to help make communities more livable."
She helped create a committee made up of design professionals, educators and community residents, to come up with amenities planned for the park. Consultant Steve Spillette is getting input from the community with a survey that will ultimately be used to add park enhancements that are unique and distinctive.
"People are gonna guide us as to a range of things that people can experience. But then also you have so many young people today are so connected through smart phones and tablets and laptops, and what kind of experiences can you bring for them as well that allow them, maybe not only to draw information and experiences from the park, but also maybe even add their own input into it, and should be unique to the park."
He explains a concept that is central to the grant from the NEA called "creative placemaking."
"The NEA is looking strongly to this project to engage in creative placemaking for not just the park, but how can it really enhance the Palm Center area, and bring it into a new era of liveliness and economic growth. And so, I think that whatever we do, in terms of deploying public art and media technology, that's always gonna be sort of, the driving underlying philosophy of this."
More information on the park and the survey being conducted can be found at http://www.tlc2.uh.edu/theparkatpalmcenter.