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Houston Philanthropist Lynn Wyatt Gifts $10 Million To Renovate Jones Plaza

The venue will be renamed the Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts. There will be a new performing space, gardens and a restaurant.

Courtesy of Houston First Corporation and Rios Clementi Hale Studios
The renovated Jones Plaza, which will be renamed Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts, aims to be a focal point in Houston’s Theater District.

Houston socialite and philanthropist Lynn Wyatt is gifting $10 million to the city to renovate Jones Plaza, which will be renamed Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts.

Located in the heart of Houston’s Theater District, Jones Plaza was named for the family of legendary local businessman and Houston Chronicle publisher Jesse H. Jones.

The Jones family is in agreement with the square's renaming, according to Houston First Corporation, the local goverment entity that operates performing arts and convention facilities in Houston.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and David Mincberg, board chairman of Houston First, made the announcement Monday during an event held at the venue. Wyatt herself, as well as city officials and representatives of the Theater District, attended.

‘Soul of a city’

Courtesy of Houston First Corporation and Rios Clementi Hale Studios
One of the goals of the renovation is to attract more visitors who enjoy walking in downtown Houston and will check out the performances programmed at the venue.

“I believe that the arts, including the performing arts, are the soul of any city,” said Wyatt, while adding she felt very touched by the warm reception to the project.

The renovated area will have a new performing space and a restaurant. Houston First has selected the architecture firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios to design the renovation.

“In addition to a great shaded lawn we will have numerous gardens, we will have a cascading water feature that looks to the Wortham Theatre,” said Roksan Okan-Vick, urban development officer at Houston First.

Mincberg said one of the takeaways from a 2015 master plan for the Theater District was that Jones Plaza needed a makeover.

“Upon that study’s completion, it was clear that a priority was to address this site, to have it match its surroundings,” said Mincberg, who chairs Houston First.

Those surroundings include the Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, the Alley Theatre and the Wortham Center, which is home to the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet.

“As our arts organizations have grown and flourished, we’ve needed to step up our game on the plaza,” noted Mincberg. “This plaza is their front door and as any front door it must be a welcoming and warm reception area.”

Evolving downtown scene

  • Houston socialite and philanthropist Lynn Wyatt during the event to announce her $10 million gift to renovate Jones Plaza. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
    Houston socialite and philanthropist Lynn Wyatt during the event to announce her $10 million gift to renovate Jones Plaza. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
  • The Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts will have a new performing space, green spaces and a restaurant. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
    The Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts will have a new performing space, green spaces and a restaurant. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
  • A water cascade will be one of the main attractions of the Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Houston First Corporationand Rios Clementi Hale Studios)
    A water cascade will be one of the main attractions of the Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Houston First Corporationand Rios Clementi Hale Studios)
  • Lynn Wyatt said she felt very touched by the warm reception to the renovation and renaming of Jones Plaza.  (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
    Lynn Wyatt said she felt very touched by the warm reception to the renovation and renaming of Jones Plaza. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester said during the event that Lynn Wyatt is an outstanding leader in Houston's philanthropic landscape. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
    Houston Mayor Sylvester said during the event that Lynn Wyatt is an outstanding leader in Houston's philanthropic landscape. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
  • Jones Plaza is located in the heart of Houston's Theater District. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
    Jones Plaza is located in the heart of Houston's Theater District. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
  • Jones Plaza is also an important landmark of Houston's downtown. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
    Jones Plaza is also an important landmark of Houston's downtown. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
  • The Wortham Center is one of the venues that surrounds Jones Plaza. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)
    The Wortham Center is one of the venues that surrounds Jones Plaza. (Photo Credit: Shannon Harrison/Houston Public Media)

Mayor Turner emphasized that downtown Houston has been evolving over the past few years with more people living in the area and midtown.

“Having a truly thriving Theater District is part of the path to a thriving downtown,” he said.

The total projected budget for the renovation is $29 million, according to Houston First. The Downtown Redevelopment Authority has committed $10 million and Houston First has contributed $5 million.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for August 2020 and the project is slated to be completed by summer 2021.

Below you can watch the announcement made Monday at Jones Plaza:

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