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New Park Planned To Be The Focal Point Of Downtown San Antonio's Hemisfair

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GGN photo
The Great Lawn and The Promenade

A new park is slated for the Hemisfair grounds downtown — which already offers public art, a giant playground, cafes and restaurants. The area was home to the 1968 World’s Fair. The land endured decades without a strategy on how to comprehensively reuse it after the gates to HemisFair ’68 closed. But that changed several years ago when a nonprofit took charge of the area.

Omar Gonzalez is Director of Real Estate for Hemisfair. He sees the district as divided into three parks. The first completed was Yanaguana Garden, essentially a 4-acre playground with life-size chess pieces, splash pads and exercise areas. The next is Civic Park.

“Civic Park is more than twice as big at about 9 acres, and the way that it is designed is to be our community gathering place,” Gonzalez said.

It will be a place to hold gatherings like Luminaria, Dia De Los Muertos and Diwali Festival of Lights. The park will contain several smaller thematic places: the first is The Shallows, which will be a collection of manmade limestone pools reminiscent of the Pedernales Falls region. Low and high water functions will mimic drought and rainy times.

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The Shallows at Civic League Park

“And then just north of The Shallows is an area called The Promenade. And The Promenade is our central walking path that’s basically the spine of Civic Park,” he said.

Native trees will shade The Promenade circling around the Civic Park’s biggest acreage, which will be The Great Lawn.

“It becomes a central gathering place where it's a bowl shaped lawn. So, it's really good to have a concert,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone has a view of it, but it's sloped slowly enough that if there is nothing going on, a it’s great place to throw a Frisbee or, you know, go kick a soccer ball around.“

Finally, a fourth thematic area called The Gardens is the area surrounding the old homes that were there long before the 1968 fair, along what is now called Nueva Street.

“And we want to give it kind of a King William feel,” he said.

Gonzalez said the process for creating the new Civic Park begins on Feb. 15, with eventual city council approval likely in August. Construction should begin this fall, with scheduled completion in 2023. Still pending is a design for the third Hemisfair park, Tower Park.

The Promenade at Civic League Park

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii