A $118 million plan to enhance the main park in downtown Phoenix is set to be unveiled Thursday evening at the Art d’Core Gala.
The city plans to redevelop 32.5-acre Margaret Hance Park into a recreation and parkland amenity for the city. The project is slated to take about a decade.
The city will open a request for proposals to prepare final engineering design and cost estimates in the fall.
“The idea is to create a compelling regional destination in downtown that will serve the entire city for special events, and serve as the outdoor space for downtown residents,” said Marcia Karasek, executive director of the Hance Park Conservancy, a nonprofit charged with bring together a coalition of support, collaboration in design and funding sources.
Development will be phased, with each phase divided into modules responding to available funding.
Hance Park stretches across the top of the Interstate 10 “deck park tunnel” through downtown Phoenix between Third Avenue and Third Street.
Inger Erickson, director of parks and recreation for Phoenix, said there are three ways to fund the project including financing options, funds through philanthropy, and direct funding through a public-private partnership.
“We’ll need to examine all options,” she said.
The first phase of the plan focuses on the portion of the park running under Central Avenue just north of the Burton Barr Library.
Plans include new entry points, an amphitheater and skate park. The firehouse will be adapted as a food and beverage center. A splash pad and water feature also are on the docket.
“Downtown and midtown are becoming places of choice to live,” said Tim Sprague, president of the conservancy. “We’re starting with an emphasis on the center of the park and building outward.”
Karasek is passionate about the potential for the revamped park, and optimistic about the benefits of a public-private partnership to develop it.
“This is the central part of the city, it ties the two art districts together with downtown,” Karasek said. “Hance Park can serve so many roles for the city and the people who live here. The population is going to double when all the new construction is completed.”
The untapped potential for the park’s role in the city is something that excites Erickson.
“(Hance Park) is going to be an urban great space,” said Erickson. “It’s already a good space with library, Irish Cultural Center and other facilities, but not we can see the park grow from good to great.”
Sprague talks about how restaurants have exploded in the downtown and midtown areas and are generated a vibrant and walkable lifestyle.
“People are not just coming home (in downtown and midtown),” he said. “They are living here and getting out, walking around. It’s an urban experience.”
After the March 10 unveiling of the park design with a virtual tour, the proposal returns with public input to the Parks and Recreation Board to define strategies and develop the scope that will go into the RFP. After the summer recess, the city council will be asked to authorize the RFP and spending the budgeted design funds.