Nearly 50 years ago, San Antonio’s urban environment was altered by an event that forever changed the downtown landscape. The 1968 World's Fair, HemisFair '68, brought San Antonio national attention and ushered in a wave of development. Fewer than a dozen structures built for the fair remain. In 1988, the site was re-christened “HemisFair Park” and improvements were added, including the waterfalls and landscaping that surround the base of the iconic Tower of the Americas.
Twenty years after the dedication of the park, San Antonio is in the midst of the so-called "Decade of Downtown," urban change has prompted more development. The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation and Hemisfair Conservancy are currently working on a multi-million dollar plan to expand and redevelop the park and improve its quality and amenities for patrons of all ages, abilities, and generations. The work will occur in three main phases, with completion of all three projected for 2020. The project highlights the potential benefits offered to the downtown area by the park, including retail and venue space. The city as a whole will benefit from a vibrant, dynamic urban oasis with functionality primarily locals.
Will Maney has been attending planning meetings for the redevelopment over the last couple of years, giving his input as someone who has and will continue to enjoy the space as it evolves. Amanda Crouch became interested in the project based on her family history with Hemisfair and after a presentation from the Conservancy on the redevelopment efforts.
One of the things that really caught our attention was that the young professional demographic was underrepresented in the input sessions and had a general lack of knowledge about the project as a whole. Based on a mutual interest of urban development and a passion for the Hemisfair project, we decided to co-found the Hemisfair Coalition just a few months ago.
After talking to others who have started similar groups, we approached the Hemisfair Conservancy to see how we might be able to contribute with the goal of engaging young professionals in the process and to help raise funds for building and sustaining what we know will become a centerpiece of San Antonio. We prepared the Coalition’s mission statement, casted a vision for the group and recruited an amazing board comprised of ambitious individuals from a variety of backgrounds and industries to bring the vision to life.
The mission of the Coalition is to help make Hemisfair an urban, walkable district in Downtown San Antonio designed for the enjoyment of locals. The organization aims to involve young professionals of San Antonio in the ongoing transformation of the Hemisfair district and redevelopment of the park. The Coalition also provides financial support to the Hemisfair Conservancy, which was founded to enable the continuation of the vision for the park’s redevelopment and sustainability. Our biggest goal for the Hemisfair Coalition is to ensure that we engage young professionals in the process for designing the next phases of Hemisfair.
The first phase of the project, Yanaguana Garden, will open the weekend of Oct. 2. The Hemisfair Coalition will be hosting a pre-completion tour of this phase on Sept. 17, followed by a happy hour.
Our kickoff event, “Picnic in the Park,” will be held on Nov. 8th from noon to 4 p.m. There will be live music by Ranch\House, beer included with admission, food trucks available, and lawn games. Admission is $10 or free for Hemisfair Coalition members.
Going forward, the Hemisfair Coalition plans to have two large annual events, an annual membership meeting, and many smaller pop-up events that happen within Hemisfair. We'll also be reaching out to our members to see what they would like to be involved in and what vision they have for the group. We're hoping that we'll have tons of support and input from the community and be able to create even more great events.
We'll see you at the park.
*Top image: Rendering of the "Source Plaza," which fronts Market and South Alamo Streets and allows views of Civic Park and Tower of the Americas. This is merely a possibility of what Hemisfair Park could become. Structures are rendered for mass visualization. Image courtesy of Hemisfair.