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Get a First Look at Community Park at Fair Park As It Enters Final Design Phase

The park has a goal of opening to the public in 2025.
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Fair Park First

The 18-acre community park at Fair Park is quickly becoming more than plans. Fair Park First, the board that oversees Fair Park’s operations, sends word on Wednesday that the green space centerpiece is “transitioning into its final phase of design, permitting, and construction documentation.”

The Fair Park Your Park financing campaign has raised $25 million of its goal of $93 million. The park was originally slated to open in spring 2024, ahead of the five-year deadline the city gave Fair Park First once the operating contract began in 2019. But the city has decided to conduct an environmental study on the site, which delayed groundbreaking until November 2025, said Julian Bowman, a spokesperson for Fair Park First.

(The City Council unanimously approved privatizing the park in October 2018.)

And, of course, the organization released some new pictures. The aerial view is above these words, and down below you’ll find a few scenes: an outdoor market, and an all-ability kids park that already has $5 million courtesy the Rees-Jones Foundation.

Brian Luallen, the CEO of Fair Park First, last year told the Park and Recreation Board that he envisions this to be “a front porch that reintroduces the park campus to the surrounding community.” This is the area bordered by Fitzhugh Avenue and Lagow Street, an ocean of concrete that once held about 300 homes that the city seized through eminent domain in the 1960s.

As expected, there is no gate to access the park. A pavilion is flanked by two spacious lawns. A jogging and walking loop circles the park. The entire complex is surrounded by trees, and a parking garage sits on the eastern corner. (Existing contracts with Live Nation and the State Fair required Fair Park First to replace the parking; the designers appear to play with the grade of the park to try and hide the garage a bit.)

Luallen told the Park Board that the nonprofit held more than 800 meetings to better understand what the community wanted in this space. They wanted a gathering place, somewhere to take the kids to run around, a lightly-programmed piece of greenspace that wasn’t blocked by a fence or some other piece of infrastructure that limited access.

Fair Park First says the project will include Wi-Fi, water features, an outdoor performance stage, a dog park, outdoor cafes, exercise equipment, playgrounds, and play structures. The landscaping will consist of native plants.

One of the renderings Fair Park First published is an outdoor market that’s taken over a portion of a plaza. In another, kids are playing on the all-ability playground. Suddenly, Fair Park doesn’t seem so walled off.    

Landscape architecture firm Studio MLA and Gensler are leading the design.

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Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…

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