Tuesday’s opening of Carpenter Park on the east side of Downtown Dallas came after 20 years of planning, fundraising and construction.
“This actually started in 2002 when the first downtown parks master plan was commissioned by the parks department,” Parks for Downtown CEO Robert Decherd said.
The park, located at 2201 Pacific Avenue, is an expanded 5.75 acres that began in 1981 as Carpenter Plaza, a smaller park area nestled amid roadways.
“This was basically lost in sort of the concrete jungle of downtown,” Mayor Eric Johnson said.
A public art piece that once sliced through the plaza alongside roadways was repositioned.
Streets that once cut through the site were reconfigured and reconstructed to create an extra acre of park green space.
The new park added a basketball court, a food truck area, fountains, wide walking paths and large spacious lawns that can host many activities.
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A salsa dancing class was scheduled for Tuesday night.
A crowd of visitors was there Tuesday morning to celebrate the official re-opening that came as the result of $20 million from city money and private contributions.
“This is a marking of part of the transformation of downtown,” said Councilman Paul Ridley who represents the neighborhood. “It’s amazing the transformation that has occurred in just the last few years from what was predominately an office location.”
A new apartment building just to the north of the park is an example of new downtown homes, with more expected around the park.
“Carpenter Park will be a critical spur to new development and help fill in some of the empty parking lots around us,” Downtown Dallas Inc CEO Jennifer Scripps said.
Carpenter Park is the largest of 6 new parks opened in Downtown Dallas in recent years, based on the Downtown Parks Master Plan.
Park designer Mary Margaret Jones was involved in the master plan and the final design of Carpenter Park.
“Dallas has done what other cities are only trying to think about how they might do. Dallas made a plan and then did it,” she said.
Best known among the other parks is Klyde Warren Park, which bridges over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway.
There’s also Main Street Garden Park across from the old city hall building and Civic Garden Park across from the Dallas Cabell Federal Courthouse between Main and Commerce Street, East of Griffin.
“A park that is neglected becomes actually a liability. We have to invest in these parks. We have to have the structure to maintain them,” Decherd said.
The former newspaper executive is a champion for downtown parks.
"DDI both advises on the design of parks, and it assumes the responsibility of keeping our downtown parks clean, safe and activated all year long," Scripps said.
“Parks for Downtown” also opened Pacific Plaza Park and West End Park, along with Carpenter Park. The group is due to complete Harwood Park in spring 2023.
“We've really leaned in hard on reclaiming space in our city that's been parking lots, dumping ground and turning them into usable, family-friendly green spaces,” Mayor Johnson said. “We’re leading the nation in doing that. It’s pretty incredible.”
Movies and other activities are scheduled at Carpenter Park later this week.