"May I have a drum roll please. Ladies and gentlemen, Discovery Green."
It's been two years since Mayor Bill White announced plans for the new park and Houston Downtown Park Conservancy Director Guy Hagstette was more than happy to unveil the new name, which he says reflects what will be the feel of the urban green space.
"We want a lot of activity and we want people to come here and explore it and enjoy it and discover new things about Houston. The naming contest involving Houstonians has ended up with the selection of a name that very much supports those overall goals."
The $93 million park will be situated on the east side of downtown, directly west of the George R. Brown Convention Center. It will include a large pond, gardens, recreation fields, an amphitheater, walking trails and a restaurant.
"We think of this space, it will be an absolute, complete transformation. This is going to be a destination park but I think in addition to that, what people may not realize is a whole new district of downtown is going to grow up around this. We already have one residential highrise project that's ready to break ground in January. There's rumors of another project that's on the drawing boards. We're very, very excited about being in the middle of a new district."
Downtown Park Conservancy Chairman Nancy Kinder, who has helped raise more than $50 million for Discovery Green, says Houston needed a downtown park.
"The beauty about this is that it's an urban park. Every other city has an urban park, Central Park, Chicago, everyone has one. We didn't. So for the residents who live downtown and for the people who work downtown, this is great."
Construction on Discovery Green is starting this week, with completion set for early 2008. Central Houston President Bob Eury says the park will be a destination instead of just a part of the cityscape.
"I think the difference here is in many cases we have public squares in downtown and of course we have the bayou, which is wonderful, but the bayou serves in many ways as a linear, green connector you know. What this is, this really is a place and it's really meant to be a place, a place that's perpetually active, a place that you can come for so many different reasons, and so you'll be there sort of again, again and again."
The city is expected to contribute $750,000 a year for operations and upkeep once Discovery Green is complete. The rest of the operational costs will come from money raised by the Downtown Park Conservancy.