Second public meeting on HemisFair Park redevelopment draws hundreds to Sunset Station

Several hundred people gathered in round tables, drawing and stacking chips on maps depicting HemisFair Park in a second public workshop to revamp San Antonio's famed downtown neighborhood.

More than 300 people attended the Hemisfair Park Planning workshop at Sunset Station to tell the city and developers the kind of kind of housing, transportation routes, shopping centers and parks they want in order to bring new vibrancy to the 78-acre area, home to the 1968 World's Fair.

The Thursday, Feb. 24 meeting was hosted by the HemisFair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. (HPARC) that was created by the San Antonio City Council in 2009 to manage and oversee the development of HemisFair Park.

"How do people see the park? Is it a park or several parks or a combination? The beauty of it is that people are here because they care," said Bill Shown, HPARC's vice president. The project is also part of Mayor Julian Castro's "Decade of Downtown" plan to bring more residents and activities to what is considered the heart of San Antonio, albeit under-utilized.

Castro used the occasion to announce a CEO for HemisFair Park Area Redevelopment Corp., Andres Andjujar, an architectural engineer who has lived in San Antonio since 1980 and has worked on the Denver Airport expansion project for the past year.

"There has to be a reason for people to stay downtown, and we're trying to figure out green spaces, how to make connectivities that allow families to walk, bring their children and have things to do," said Richard Rosen, executive director of the 13-year-old Magik Theatre on Alamo HemisFair Park. "Right now, people come to functions downtown, but they immediately go home because there's not much to do. We need to make sure that changes."

Participants at about 35 tables engaged in a "board game" where they stacked colored cards on a reference map of HemisFair to represent the kind of buildings, residential areas, businesses, cafes, parks, bridges and pedestrian areas they would like to see in the master plan. (You can find a desciption of the master plan here.)

This allowed them to consider green and public places, extension of the Riverwalk, the possible renovation of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, and where streets and VIA streetcar routes should be located, among other considerations.

The Redevelopment Corp. is photographing the maps, documenting and tabulating the models to present the configurations that people came up with. They will be presented at third public forum at a date and location to be announced.

For more background, check out NOWCastSA's video compilation from the first public meeting on HemisFair redevelopment, and a collection of social media reaction to the public forum.

Follow tweets and see pictures from Thursday's public meeting on the #HemisFair hashtag.

The HemisFair planning also group also posted a short video interview on its Facebook page with HPARC's vice president Shown discussing the public's response and involvement in the process.

(Because of slow Internet speed at Sunset Station, NowCastSA will not produce a live Webcast during the meeting. We will record the event and interviews with key participants on video for later posting and we will be making live updates on Twitter. Follow us @NOWCastSA )


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