© 2022 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

HemisFair Park Development Plan Outlines What Area Will Look Like

Lee Dunkelberg
Texas Public Radio

Plan for the Hemisfair Park development call for several distinct "areas," including an amphitheater, a reception area, an interactive water feature called The Shallows, and The Zocalo, which will greet people at the entrance to the park at South Alamo and Market.

Omar Gonzalez, Hemisfair's director of planning and development, said residents helped create the vision. The Zocalo, for example, will be a place for music day and night, cafes and outdoor seating, according to the Hemisfair Civic Park Vision and Program Plan, released Thursday.

"There's great people watching all the time," said Gonzalez of the vision they have for The Zocalo. "You can eat there, you could even bring your own food. You can look at the colorful art and have this interactive water feature, art feature and so it's that kind of what people envision when you want to walk up to Hemisfair."

Construction will begin in mid-2016, once the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is expanded to the east, and the western, older portion of the building is deconstructed.

But the master plan has been in the works for some time. The city council approved the HemisFair Master Plan in 2012. In June 2013, community outreach began with focus groups helping put a face to the new Hemisfair. With hundreds of people working on a plan, recommendations like open spaces, shade and a flexible environment emerged as important themes.

Phase One of Hemisfair is already in the design phase, according to Gonzalez, who says construction on the Play Escape will begin in early 2014. It should be finished in 2015.

Credit Hemisfair PARC
Hemisfair PARC
Expanding the Convention Center towards the east and deconstructing the western portion creates space for the civic park.

"It's pretty cool that we can do the Play Escape first, kind of learn from that, and then a couple years later come back and really hit another homerun with the civic park," Gonzalez said.

Last week, the city council approved another important piece of the overall Hemisfair development project. Members approved deed restrictions that will place limitations on construction at Hemisfair for a balance of land uses. Among the restrictions is a cap of 200 hotel guest rooms within Hemisfair.

State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, carried the legislation that allows San Antonio leaders to have control over the redevelopment.

He told the city council during a mid-October meeting that people expressed concerns to him that they wanted to have a say in how Hemisfair would be developed.

"They recognized that this urban space was terribly underutilized, and [I heard] a sense of hope that we were going to renew this area, revitalize it, and make it a destination for San Antonians," he said.

The Hemisfair Civic Park Vision and Program Plan can be viewed by clicking here.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.