Among all the things to look forward to in Houston’s New Year, the unveiling in March of the $54 million first phase of Hermann Park’s revitalization is one you may not want to miss.
The 26-acre expansion, called the Commons, will debut on the side of the park closest to the Texas Medical Center and will include new green space, interactive playgrounds, a café and a beer garden.
“We are incredibly excited as we reach the final stages of completing the first phase of the Hermann Park master plan that was launched in 2017,” said Doreen Stoller, president and CEO of Hermann Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that stewards the park.
“This first phase, which includes the Commons, the McWilliams Dog Park, and a renewed public art initiative, has been given life through the Play Your Park campaign, which has raised more than $54 million toward these projects,” she said. “We recently celebrated the opening of the dog park, which was one of the most resounding requests from the community, and we are delighted that so many people and their furry companions have been able to enjoy this space so far.”
The improvements are bound to draw even more Houston-area residents and visitors to the Greater Southeast Management District, which enhances economic development, public safety, beautification and other aspects of the dynamic area. Hermann Park attractions such as the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre, municipal golf course, jogging paths, the Japanese Garden and the McGovern Centennial Gardens already bring crowds to the urban park on a daily basis.
“While it would be easy for me to say that I’m most excited about the Commons opening early next year, what truly excites me most about this campaign is the enthusiasm we have received from the community,” Stoller said. “Whether it be the generosity from donors and sponsors or the eagerness from the public, it’s this incredible interest in the enhancement of our beloved park that is most electrifying.”
A major feature of the Commons will be the Welcome Garden, at the corner of Fannin and Cambridge streets. Filled with thousands of native plantings, shade from live oaks and winding paths, this area will offer a place of respite and calm right across from the Medical Center for healthcare workers, patients, and their families.
“We recognize the role that the Medical Center plays in our city as well as for people across the country who come here for its elite care; and especially after the coronavirus pandemic, we felt strongly about dedicating our thoughts and efforts into how to provide a healing and nurturing space for everyone there,” Stoller said.
So, what’s next?
“Hermann Park’s updated master plan will guide our work for the next 20 years,” Stoller explained. “While we want to properly honor and appreciate all the work that has gone into the current slate of projects that are debuting at this time — the Commons, the McWilliams Dog Park, and (a) public art initiative — we do have our sights set on what’s next. As of now, the next set of improvements will focus on… the connections between Brays Bayou and the center of Hermann Park, the trails along both sides of the bayou and the overall quality of the existing habitat and experience of the area.”