The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. (HPARC) has sent out a request for qualifications for developers that may be interested in making their mark in the transformation of the old 1968 World’s Fair site. The redevelopment corporation is already hard at work with contractors in building Yanaguana Garden, an educational playscape-type section of the old Hemisfair Park for all people of all ages and abilities. The 4-plus-acre Yanaguana Garden is being developed in the southwestern corner of Hemisfair, and is slated to open later this summer, HPARC officials told the San Antonio City Council earlier this month. HPARC is next targeting what it calls the northwestern quadrant, where vertical mixed-use developers with relevant urban experience are sought to propose projects that may culturally fit into the overall new Hemisfair concept.
The northwest quadrant holds a potential for total development between 500,000 and 750,000 square feet across five acres. Possible uses here include residential, office, hotel, retail and restaurant. The northwest quadrant of Hemisfair will include a significantly sized civic park, the uses of which will be determined through a variety of vehicles for public input. A schematic design for the park was completed last year. Plans call for the civic park to be open in 2018 and be part of celebrations of the city’s tricentennial. Development of the northwest quadrant will necessitate demolition of the northwest corner of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, a project slated for 2016.
HPARC officials said spaces for public parking and general users of the area should number more than 800. The redevelopment corporation estimates a total investment in the area between $150 million and $250 million. Responses from developers are due April 6.
Aside from being funded by the city’s 2012 voter-approved bond issue, redevelopment and long-term maintenance of a transformed Hemisfair will rely upon a blend of donations and public/private development partnerships. Hemisfair officials are negotiating over one proposed Water Street mixed-use development that envisions more than 160 mixed income residential units, a parking garage with public parking spaces, and more than 9,700 square feet of space for small businesses and work-live quarters.
The Hemisfair Conservancy was initiated in 2014 as an individual nonprofit organization meant to aid in raising private sector investments and philanthropic support. Such funds will help with park improvements and maintenance, as HPARC means for Hemisfair to be a self-sustaining area and no longer reliant on city money by 2021.
The new Hemisfair is to contain a third park, Tower Park, which will surround the Tower of the Americas, and open by 2020. For more information, visit www.hemisfair.org.