The vision for a deck park above I-35 in Oak Cliff continues to become reality as construction for the major project moves forward. On Tuesday organizers said they've reached 75% of their fundraising goal of $82 million for phase one of two of Southern Gateway Park.
Expected to be completed in 2024, the 5.5 acres of park will have trees, pavilions, food trucks, similar to Klyde Warren Park.
"But this is not just going to be some carbon copy of Klyde Warren, this is going to be a park with a different purpose," said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Tuesday morning.
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Johnson said the goal is to connect a neighborhood that was split by I-35 when it was built in the 1950s and 1960s.
"We have the opportunity to heal this divide by literally bridging this highway," he said.
The plan has drawn criticism from some who would rather see the funds go towards other issues in the community such as housing, sidewalks, public safety and more.
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"This park will also spur economic development housing, and all of those add to our safety and vitality," said Ron Kirk, former mayor of the city of Dallas.
He along with Mike Rawlings, also a former mayor of Dallas, are also working to help revitalize Southern Dallas.
"I don't think that this much money and this big a project has ever been done in southern Dallas in the last 80 years, think about that," said Rawlings.
Funding for the massive project is part of a public and private partnership spearheaded by a nonprofit group called Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation.
On Tuesday it was announced they were able to raise more than $62 million of the $82 million. This past month they received millions thanks to four major donors, including Rees-Jones Foundation which gave $5 million to the project, Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) with $3.5 million with a grant from W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund, $1 million from the Eugene McDermott Foundation and $1 million from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation.
"Although we still have work to do, Today's announcement shows the Southern Gateway Park is a reality, it's happening," said April Allen, President & COO of Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation.
The second phase is expected to cost $90 million. The second part of the project will extend further south toward Marsalis Ave. on I-35. The entire park is adjacent to the Dallas Zoo.