Downtown Park

Plans for a new downtown park now include a multi-story underground garage. The 12-acre park will extend from the George R. Brown Convention Center, across Crawford Avenue and into the Houston Center area.

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In fact Crawford Avenue will end on either side of the park and be closed to through traffic. While the final plans for the park won't be made public until later this spring, Guy Hagstette, the Director of the Houston Downtown Park Conservancy says it will be more than an appealing green space.

It's going to have a number of features in it ranging from areas where you can throw a foot ball, jogging trails, performance area for outdoor musical performances, a pond, water features, a major play area for children that includes water in it, restaurants, other dining opportunities, gardens, tree house decks, all kinds of stuff, it's very exciting.

Just recently announced, an underground parking garage. It will hold 600-plus cars, about the same number of spaces on the surface lots that will be lost when the park is constructed. The unique aspect of this project is that the park is most important element. Hagstette says the design of the garage will fit the park, not the other way around.

Some of the earlier examples from decades ago, we have the park component on top of the garage; let's say Jones's Plaza or Tranquility Park. As wonderful as those designs may be, they often had to incorporate compromises with a garage that's maybe built to high, or not enough soil, or things like that, and that's not going to happen here.

Hagstette says cars will enter and exit the garage along Avenida De Las Americas, but there will be multiple points for pedestrians to get out of the garage.

We have an artist involved in the design of those stairwells so that they're very attractive, very light, very open and we can enjoy the very maximum integration of the park with the garage environment so they fell like they work together.

The garage will be under the central lawn and the performance area which will not have trees associated with them. As to the existing trees in the area.

We are absolutely saving the older trees. The large live oaks that you see on the site today will remain, they are sacred, and there are a number of other trees on the block closest to downtown that are being saved as well.

The city will foot the 21 and a half million cost of the garage, but the park will be built with private funds. Hagstette says construction should begin in late summer and be complete by the end of next year.

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