Deck Parks, Community Connectivity and Massive Success

What is the role of the Conservancy? Dallas and Chicago show success of collaborative model

In the late 1980's when the 1-10 construction was being considered in Phoenix, neighborhood activists sued the Federal Government to build  the deck and park that forms Hance Park today.  Around the country, successful deck parks are creating vital green space and activating new walk-to-the park development.   As we grow our Hance Park Conservancy organization as a public private partnership with the City of Phoenix we bring more than private sector dollars to the project, we bring focus and energy to the project.  Our goal is to activate the park now at the same time as raising the capital to realize the design vision.  One shining example of what programming and park activation can do is Klyde Warren Park in Dallas.  Similar to Hance Park, it lies between downtown and mid-town over the freeway.  It was opened only five years ago but the flourishing park is now the epicenter civic life in Dallas and is host to hundreds of activities and programs every year.  The impact of the diverse activities has been to make the whole area hugely attractive for new residents. 

In a recent article in Dallas' D Magazine which focuses on real estate development, editors looked beyond the biggest deals to single out the trends, transactions, and events that they felt had the greatest impact on North Texas.  Here's how they ranked their new central deck park: "No. 1: The Impact of Klyde Warren Park"

When the 4.5-acre deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway opened in the fall of 2012, no one could have predicted the profound impact it would have on the Dallas commercial real estate market.

...Dallas is one of the few cities with the gumption to make something like a Klyde Warren Park happen. The effort, which began in earnest in the early 2000s, was led by banking executive Jody Grant, Crescent Real Estate’s John Zogg, and Linda Owen, formerly with The Real Estate Council. “The impact has far surpassed our wildest imagination,” Grant says. “We were just coming out of the Great Recession, with a lot of uncertainty about the future.”

An initial impact study showed the park could lead to about $350 million in new development. “Well, it has been over $1 billion—in fact, it’s probably a lot more than that,” Zogg says. Beyond driving up real estate values, Klyde Warren Park has helped change the perception of Dallas, Zogg says: “We’re becoming a world-class city, and it’s only going to get better.”      from article by Christine Perez in D Magazine Jan 6 2016

Chicago's Millenium Park  

Chicago's iconic Millennium Park's impact on surrounding areas is so notably positive that people refer to it as the "Millennium Effect."  With major public art and vibrant programming, this Conservancy has produced  a big success for Chicago. 

"When it opened in 2004, it transformed an industrial wasteland into Chicago’s showplace for cutting-edge art, architecture, landscape design, music and more. Today, the 24.5-acre park is Chicago’s second-largest tourist attraction  “Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s most extraordinary venues, and its popularity continues to climb among visitors and residents alike,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago. “Last summer, the Park welcomed 4.75 million people, an increase of more than 5 percent. This summer, the Park provides an amazing backdrop for hundreds of FREE cultural programs.”  -- Jamey Lundblad, City of Chicago News Release.

Deck Parks around the Country  

Positive economic, health and cultural impacts have been and continue to be measured on these urban deck park projects around the country.  We will continue to highlight case studies to put the Hance Park project in the context of other efforts around the country which are producing results for their Cities and communities. 

Examples from around the country: Clockwise from Top: LaCanada, Flintridge, CA; San Diego, CA., Hollywood Central Park, Los Angeles, CA, Tonga Park, Santa Monica, CA,; Ventura, CA,; Atlanta, GA, Dallas, TX, Mercer Island, WA, and Park 101, Los Angeles.  

They are drawn from slides from a recent planning association conference which make the case for deck park investment.  It is entitled "the ABC's of Cap Parks" and was presented  at the American Planning Association National Conference in 2014.

Kyle Larkin