a day at the park

Get a sneak peek at downtown Houston's highly anticipated urban park before it blooms

Get a sneak peek at downtown Houston's highly anticipated urban park

Southern Downtown Park Houston
Southern Downtown Park promises to be a green getaway.  Rendering courtesy of Downtown Redevelopment Authority
Southern Downtown Park Houston
The large dog park and run.  Rendering courtesy of Downtown Redevelopment Authority
Southern Downtown Park Houston
The lush garden.  Rendering courtesy of Downtown Redevelopment Authority
Southern Downtown Park Houston
The green lawn and trellis.  Rendering courtesy of Downtown Redevelopment Authority
Southern Downtown Park Houston
The outdoor cafe.  Rendering courtesy of Downtown Redevelopment Authority
Southern Downtown Park Houston
The park will sit on Fannin, San Jacinto, Bell, and Leland streets. Rendering courtesy of Downtown Redevelopment Authority
Southern Downtown Park Houston
Southern Downtown Park Houston
Southern Downtown Park Houston
Southern Downtown Park Houston
Southern Downtown Park Houston
Southern Downtown Park Houston

Houston parks are in full bloom, with Memorial Park undergoing a massive transformation, Levy Park receiving design honors, and even the Houston Arboretum revealing a new ravine. Now, downtown is getting in on the action, with the unveiling of new plans, designs, and even activities for Southern Downtown Park.

As CultureMap previously reported, the new park will be located at the 1500 block of Fannin street and will sit in the blocks between Fannin, San Jacinto, Bell, and Leland streets. Design plans highlight an L-shaped site that will be framed by garden zones on the north (bordering Bell Street) and the south (bordering Leeland Street). The northern edge will be anchored by a proposed “rotating gateway art installation” near the corner of Fannin and Bell, per a statement.

According to the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, which released the designs, a bid for a park contractor will start in December 2019, with a construction start date set for March 2020 and expected opening in March 2021. The official park name will be announced at groundbreaking.

Fun for people and pets
Houstonians will no doubt flock to the park’s southern edge, which will feature seating with a water feature, along with dog runs with trees, boulders, mounds, and a vine-covered trellis with seating. Cyclists will enjoy the seating, bike racks, and a bike repair station.

Southern Downtown Park is meant to reimagine the look and use of a typical backyard with its central lawn, according to the DRA. The lawn can host games or serve as a seating area for occasional events held on the elevated trellis platform tucked into the southern gardens.

Park-goers can also expect a fast-casual cafe, which will offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The 2,400-square-foot cafe features a curving façade with a roof monitor where daylight will fill the cafe and maximize the play of sunlight and shadow; at night it will glow and create a lantern-like landmark, according to a release.

Let the games begin
Southern Downtown Park will also boast what’s being dubbed as a “flexible recreation space” adjacent to the restaurant patio, which will be used for games such as ping-pong and cornhole along with smaller group activities and events.

Walls around the edges can be raised and lowered for special events or climate control, and the eastern wall can serve as a screen for outdoor film screenings or art displays.

Take a stroll
Walkability is a value reflected in the new park’s design schematics. With that in mind, the park calls for “safe pedestrian connections” — the park’s zones will be connected by a broad, curved, Live Oak-lined walkway stretching from the southeast corner to the northwest corner.  Designs show that the site will also be bisected by a second walkway directing visitors from mid-block entries on Fannin and Bell.

At night, innovative lighting integrated throughout the park will highlight architectural features and create a stimulating, changeable experience, according to a statement.

Design is a key feature of the new park: Lauren Griffith Associates is the lead landscape architecture team; Gensler is providing architectural services for the site’s fast-casual restaurant; Gandy2 Lighting Design is providing lighting services; Kuo & Associates is providing civil engineering; and Waterscape Consultants is providing water feature engineering, per a statement.

Once open, the space will be managed and programmed by the Downtown District.