by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership (2) Comments  

Market Square in Houston is among one of the most successful urban park renewal projects. Over the years, the Square transitioned from the city center’s historic district to a parking lot to a green area to art space, never having a real sense of purpose or welcoming. Yet in 2010, through collaboration and partnerships, the park was transformed. City government, local development groups, residents and property owners all came together and formed consensus on a plan for the park, designed to preserve its historical and artistic roots.

Project for Public Spaces was brought on board early in the process to lead the programming phase through a series of town hall meetings, focus groups and onsite evaluations. The City’s commitment to creating a focal point for the historic district and a sense of community by funding the entirety of the project is what allowed the project to move forward.

Today, a visitor can follow a black granite band through the park for a tour around the footprint of the old City Hall’s foundation. A rectangular lawn sits at the foundation’s center. The park’s cafe (selected through an RFP process) features outdoor seating and tables. Art and sculpture are abundant. And a crescent‐shaped dog run provides a welcoming place for dogs to play off-leash. The park is now brimming and bustling with friendly, safe, activity.

The key to the park’s event planning is partnerships. This enables the park to leverage events through collaborative planning, budgeting and co‐marketing. Events include a concert series, outdoor movies, dog training seminars, organized bike rides and historic and architectural tours. Special events are designed to drive traffic not only to the park, but also to the surrounding businesses.

Follow the transformation here.  Read the full case study here.



2 Responses to “What it takes to revive a city park: Lessons from Houston’s Market Square”

  • Thank you for sharing this case study (that we otherwise would not have seen) and for your great coverage of public space issues in general!

  • Jack Bobeck says:

    All dogs need a place to go and run around. I really hope that the friends of Hemming Plaza will think about a place for the dogs to go and play. Most of the residences downtown do not feature a lot of living space so dogs do not get the exercise they need to help in their healthy lifestyles. We see this frequently with owners who bring in their dogs for Dog Daycare at Happy Hound Dog Resorts. There should be more of an option for downtown residents.

    Jack Bobeck
    Jacksonville, FL

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