San Antonio’s Hemisfair Eastern Zone Can Be Improved with Purposefully Located Parks and Open Green Space, Says New Report from the Urban Land Institute
December 12, 2019
Report on Hemisfair reuse is based on recommendations from land-use experts
For more information, contact Justin Arnold, 202-448-8717, [email protected]
WASHINGTON (December 12, 2019) – San Antonio’s Hemisfair Eastern Zone can be improved for future users by purposefully allocating and designing walkable parks and green spaces to connect currently disparate areas around the site, according to a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI). ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 46,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving communities.
The report is based on recommendations from a panel of land use and urban development experts convened last April through ULI’s Advisory Services program to advise the city on how to create an active urban district that will foster community cohesion and advance the area as a critical connector between previously disengaged sectors of the urban core. The panelists recommended:
- Creation of a vision for the Eastern Zone: The panelists recommended that the city improve the south side of the convention center to serve as an anchor for Tower Park, and design for active and passive open-space elements throughout the zone that allow for increased connectivity;
- Cultivating a development strategy: The Advisory Services panelists urged the city to find opportunities to strengthen the attractiveness off the park and identify opportunities to leverage private development that brings people and residents to the area. They also recommended coordinating with owners of adjacent properties to meet the needs of all stakeholders, redevelop the surface parking lot to create high-density mixed use developments, and implement the development in a strategic phase in order to capture maximum value;
- Striving towards long-term sustainability: The panel recommended that the city incorporate the best design and fiscal practices from similar park models across the country, including creation of a living document updated every four-five years, leveraging opportunities to lad in areas of health and wellness to alleviate health disparities in the area, building branding, marketing, and constitution communications to support public engagement, and establishing more public/private partnerships to achieve common goals.
The panel was chaired by ULI Trustee Alex Rose, senior vice president of development at Continental Development Corporation in El Segundo, California. “This ULI Advisory Services Panel was charged with assessing and making recommendations to the community about how to transform a large portion of the former and currently vacant Hemisfair site into a great public space – walkable, active, connective, vibrant and financially viable,” said Rose. “What the panel recognized was that the site represented a unique opportunity to not only accomplish that charge, but also recreate and reconnect a set of vibrant neighborhoods that existed in the San Antonio central business district prior to the late 1960s assembly of this site for the World’s Fair event. The panel believes that the recommendations laid out in this report provide a financially viable model for recreating the pre-fair central business district adjacent neighborhood, reconnection of same to the surrounding neighborhoods and creating the type of open space and park amenities sought by San Antonians.”
Rose was joined on the panel by Marina Badoian-Kriticos, research scientist, Energy and Natural Resource Policy, Houston Advanced Research Center, The Woodlands, Texas; Dan Conway, president, THK Associates, Inc., Aurora, Colorado; Rick Dishnica, president, The Dishnica Company, LLC, Point Richmond, California; Allen Folks, principal and director of design and planning, Ascent, Sacramento, California; Joyce Lee, president, IndigoJLD, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Riki Nishimura, director of urban strategies, Gensler, San Francisco, California; Tyrone Rachal, president, Red Rock Global Capital Partners, Atlanta, Georgia; and Janine Sisak, senior vice president/general counsel, the DMA Companies, Austin, Texas.
The Advisory Services panel was conducted in conjunction with the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a national movement striving to ensure that residents of urban neighborhoods throughout America have access to a high-quality park within a ten-minute walk from their homes. The 10-Minute Walk Campaign, which has been endorsed by over 230 mayors, involves a partnership between the Urban Land Institute, The Trust for Public Land, and the National Recreation and Park Association. The panel was also supported by the Hemisfair staff and board and a generous charitable gift from Silver Ventures, a San Antonio based private equity investment firm.
For more than 70 years, ULI’s Advisory Services Program has assembled ULI members who are experts in the fields of real estate development and sustainability to advise communities facing complex urban development challenges. In addition to San Antonio, ULI advisory panels have assisted numerous communities with urban revitalization issues, such as Erie, Pennsylvania, Mt. Comfort, Indiana and
Past sponsors of ULI Advisory Services panels include federal, state, and local governments; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment agencies; private developers and property owners; community development organizations; lenders; groups focused on historic preservation; local nonprofits; environmental organizations and economic development authorities.