Start of Historic Park Revitalization; $5.8 Million Public-Private Investment to Restore 180 Year-Old Park
AUSTIN, Texas (June 28, 2016) Austin Parks Foundation (APF), in collaboration with the Downtown Austin Alliance and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department hosted a groundbreaking celebration to recognize the donors who brought the $5.8 million renovation to fruition. The groundbreaking celebration marks the official start to the restoration of the urban public square as a destination for this live-work district.
“It was an honor to carry the legislation that renewed the state’s delegation of responsibility for Republic Square Park to the City of Austin for another 99 years,” Senator Kirk Watson said. “While Mayor of Austin, the City, Downtown Austin Alliance and the Austin Parks Foundation formalized a partnership that has brought significant improvement to this historic gathering place. Today’s groundbreaking is the beginning of the next iteration of Republic Square Park as a community meeting place, and I couldn’t be more proud or more excited for the front yard of our downtown.”
Added Congressman Lloyd Doggett, “Growing up a few blocks from the Square, I have seen it transformed from parking lot to Farmers’ Market, and now we can all help in restoring it to its original beauty and greater accessibility for families across our community.”
The renovation project is guided by the Republic Square Master Plan, which was developed by a public process in 2012 and led by Design Workshop. The objective of the master plan was to create a first-class, community-supported, functional urban square. The three host entities created a partnership that ensures funding from renovation to maintenance is secure. Austin Parks Foundation managed the design process and will continue its management through construction. Additionally, Austin Parks Foundation is leading the capital campaign to close the funding gap of $3.5 million of the $5.8 million goal, which includes a $1 million endowment for the operations and maintenance of Republic Square Park. Once construction is complete, the Downtown Austin Alliance will oversee operations and management of the park. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will supervise the partnership and operations, ensuring the park continues to serve the public and stakeholders in the area.
“Under the Auction Oaks in Republic Square Park is where the first lots of Austin were sold. This is literally where our city got its start, so I’m gratified to see nonprofits, private donors, and government come together to give Republic Square Park fresh life,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
Republic Square Park is historically significant, in that it was the location where the first 306 lots of the city of Austin were sold at auction in 1839. Throughout its history Republic Square Park has been known as “Courthouse Square” and “Hemphill Park” to name a few. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the park had strong associations with Austin’s Mexican-American populations due to its concentration of Hispanic citizens in the surrounding neighborhoods. In recent years, it was the first site of Austin’s Movies in the Park (put on by APF) and is home to the Sustainable Food Center’s Downtown Farmers’ Market and serves as the staging area for shuttles to the Austin City Limits Music Festival, among other events.
“Republic Square Park is one of three remaining downtown historic squares,” said Austin Parks Foundation Executive Director, Colin Wallis. “The juxtaposition of this historic park, among new skyscrapers and some of the most innovative companies in the world shows how much our city embraces its past while carefully balancing our ‘boomtown’ status.”
The newly renovated public square will boast a modern design, including a circular promenade that will connect pedestrians to the four corners of the park while providing a flexible central lawn. New amenities to the park will include a permanent food kiosk, café-style seating and public restrooms. Click here for more information about the park’s design and amenities.
The Sustainable Food Center’s Saturday Farmers’ Market will continue to operate on West 4th Street and the adjacent Federal Courthouse Plaza during construction. To stay up-to-date on news and information about the progress of construction, visit the Republic Square Park Facebook page.
The Park is slated to reopen in Summer 2017.