In a ceremony with more than 200 residents in attendance, community leaders broke ground on San Antonio’s central park, Civic Park at Hemisfair, marking the beginning of an 18-month construction project to bring its world-class vision to life.
“When the community came together in 2012 to envision the master plan for the Hemisfair redevelopment, they could not have foreseen a global crisis that would impact the way we gather for Fiesta and other major celebrations,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “Urban greenspaces have become even more essential to the mental well-being, physical health and connection of our residents. Hemisfair’s Civic Park is the great gathering place our city needs.”
The City of San Antonio Public Works Department contracted Skanska USA Building, Inc. to construct the $27 million voter-approved project. Civic Park Phase I encompasses five acres of public parkland, including a shaded Promenade, the Shallows water feature and a Great Lawn for large events up to 15,000 people in concert mode.
“Civic Park will be built with the resilience and health of our residents in mind,” City Manager Erik Walsh said. “This day has been a long time coming, and I’m grateful to the entire team who worked diligently behind the scenes to get us here.”
Philanthropic contributions augmented public and private funding to construct Civic Park Phase I, including a seven-figure gift from the Mays Family Foundation for the Peggy Mays Garden. Once open, the park will also feature free public Wi-Fi to increase community broadband access and an expanded public restroom with a universal changing station for individuals with special needs.
“Civic Park was designed by and for the San Antonio community, after months of public engagement to develop the Hemisfair master plan and years of witnessing its success at Yanaguana Garden,” said Cara DeAnda, chair of the Board of Directors for the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation. “We’re grateful to our partners at the City of San Antonio, GGN and Skanska for working with us to deliver on our promise of creating one of the world’s great public places.”
Landscape architecture firm GGN designed the park to tell the story of the region’s natural rock formations and water sources, sustainably utilizing treated, recycled water that will travel through channels into shallow, interactive pools.
“We spent a lot of time listening to San Antonians and working to understand what is unique about this city,” said David Malda, Design Principal at GGN. “Civic Park’s design relates to the broader stories of land and water that are at the heart of this region, all of which come together to shape a park that is all about San Antonio, while offering something very new.”
Civic Park Phase I is slated to open by fall of 2023. The Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Community Bond Committee recommended $18 million in the 2022 Municipal Bond to complete construction of Civic Park Phase II, which includes the grand Source Plaza entrance adjacent to the Torch of Friendship, a Zocalo with built-in terrace for community performances and the Mural Plaza at the river level of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Pending approval of that funding, Civic Park Phase II at Hemisfair is estimated to be complete in late 2024, with the NCAA Men’s Final Four celebrations taking place at Civic Park in early 2025.