Dallas, Texas is ready to repurpose one of its ubiquitous downtown surface parking lots into a public green space. On March 22, 2107, the Dallas City Council approved a development agreement with Parks for Downtown Dallas (PfDD) to build what will be called, for now, Pacific Plaza Park.
The nonprofit organization, which fought back an adversarial group that wanted to build an underground parking garage on the site, will donate $15 million to pay for the construction of the park and another $1 million for an operating endowment. PfDD is a nonprofit that was established in 2015 when The Belo Foundation decided to concentrate on creating more green spaces for downtown Dallas. PfDD and two private donors have offered $35 million to the City of Dallas to be matched in the 2017 bond program to create 4 new parks.
Pacific Plaza has now been approved by the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board, and we will begin construction in 2017. Parks for Downtown Dallas will privately fund Pacific Plaza in its entirety and it will not require bond monies. Soon, those near the Harwood Street pedestrian corridor will enjoy a lovely green space instead of surface parking lots.
The plan is to transform the existing concrete into a neighborhood park in the heart of downtown. This idea has been in the queue for a decade, as the land was acquired for $9.1 million with 2006 bond funds.
Two public input meetings were held at the start of the design process. The feedback from those has informed by landscape architects SWA’s design.
The park isn’t completely free to taxpayers, who will have to foot the bill for remediating the city-owned land. City officials said the environmental work could cost between $500,000 and $1.6 million.
Parks for Downtown Dallas president Amy Meadows said that once remediation is done, which the group hopes will be early 2018, construction of the park will begin and take 12 to 18 months.
In its 63-year history as a grant maker, The Belo Foundation awarded more than $54 million in charitable donations, primarily focusing on grants in the areas of college-level journalism and the development of urban public parks and open spaces. The foundation has supported downtown parks in Dallas since 1993 through grants to the Dallas Trees and Parks Foundation for Pioneer Plaza, the creation of the Dallas Police Memorial, the ongoing maintenance of Lubben Plaza and multi-year funding for the operation of the Ferris Plaza fountain, as well as the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of Belo Garden.