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Residents Discuss Hemisfair Vision For "Front Porch" Of San Antonio

Eileen Pace

More than 200 local residents packed the Institute of Texan Cultures on Tuesday evening at a visioning meeting for the new Hemisfair. They were asked to enter their suggestions for features at the corner of Market Street and Alamo, near the Torch of Friendship.

Andres Andujar, CEO of Hemisfair Park Redevelopment Corporation, saidthat corner will be the large open space that becomes the front porch of San Antonio.

"In current condition, convention center halls A and B sit in that area, but when the convention center concludes its expansion toward I-37, this part of the convention center will be demolished, making room for part of our plan to expand the park and improve its quality," Andujar said. 

It’s not a far stretch to imagine a playground, water features and winding pathways through the space, but this placemaking event asked a little more vision of its participants. Team facilitators like Bill Shown got things going.

Credit Eileen Pace / TPR
A map of the area that HPARC CEO Andres Andujar called "the front porch" of San Antonio.

"The key here is for each of us to go around the table and talk about the three most important things we want to see and do in the park," he said.

Participants had a variety of ideas, including historical markers, an amphitheater, concert shell or something for performance, and places to relax and watch people. 

There were also numerous suggestions for shade and canopies of different types, along with water features for staying cool, and many ideas centered around public art. PhillippaMartinez-Berrier grew up playing in Hemisfair Park and wants to see another generation of kids who live downtown have a great experience.

"The summers would be really hot, so we’d swim in the fountain,” Martinez-Berrier said. "And I know that was not allowed, but it was always great, and that’s really an important thing that I want to see in the park. I want to see kids being able to play all the time in water features, and I’m hoping that there are going to be a lot of art exhibits where kids can interact with them as well."

Credit Eileen Pace / TPR
Hundreds gather for the Hemisfair visioning workshop for the northwest corner of the park, where the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center is now located

"I want to see kids playing on sculptures, because it’s fun," said Sloane Cloudt, who participated with her parents, Clare and Harding.

As for the Hemisfair Arch that provides a natural side entrance for the park, Andujar said everything is up for discussion.

"Well, we'll see. You decide that," he said. 

Andujar said Goliad Road is located there today, but the arch could be retained, either in place or repositioned or even expanded.

The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation will take the most frequently repeated ideas to designers and expect to see something hit the drawing board in about year.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.