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Center City Park: DT Greensboro

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Foundation donates $2 million to park

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5-5-04

By NATE DEGRAFF, Staff Writer

News & Record

GREENSBORO -- Downtown revitalization got another boost this week when advocates announced that a local foundation will contribute $2 million to the Center City Park project.

The gift, from the Greensboro-based Cemala Foundation, brings the total raised for the park to $9.8 million, according to Action Greensboro, the non-profit that's gathering funds to build the 2-acre green space. The goal is $12 million.

"We look at it as the centerpiece of the whole city," said Priscilla Taylor, executive director of the foundation and a key Action Greensboro backer.

Cemala, one of six local foundations financing Action Greensboro, has contributed $3.25 million to the park project. Action Greensboro officials said they were surprised by the $2 million gift.

"Oh, I was just thrilled," said Susan Schwartz, Action Greensboro's executive director, who learned of the gift shortly before the announcement.

"It's just a big help. It's a lot of money that we're needing to raise."

The unfinished park, bordered by Friendly Avenue and North Elm and North Davie streets, features a lawn, gravel pathways, and tables and chairs. On a sunny weekday, downtown office workers can be found basking in the sunshine and nibbling on brown-bag lunches.

"You're not right on the traffic," Tierney McCashland, a Jefferson-Pilot Corp. employee, said Tuesday as she prepared to chow on tuna and crackers. "You can kind of sit back and observe -- people-watch."

The park has already held a variety of events, but activity is picking up as summer approaches. This weekend, the park will host the Carolina Blues Festival and a Cinco de Mayo event. A farmers' market will start up soon.

"Really, in a couple weeks, you're going to see it booked pretty heavily," said Ray Gibbs, president of Downtown Greensboro, Inc.

And thanks to Time Warner Cable Business Services and IT Training & Solutions, Inc., the park will soon become an Internet "hot spot" for those with properly enabled laptops and hand-held devices. The service should be available by midsummer.

Some parkgoers are enjoying the space as is, but it's about to undergo a major face-lift. On Tuesday, downtown advocates completed a series of interviews with five prospective park designers. Later this month, one of them will be selected to design the final phase of the park.

No one knows exactly what shape the park will take, but residents have said they want sculpture, food service and some kind of water feature.

Once selected, the design team will meet with community members to get reaction to concept designs. The designer will work on the project during the summer, with the design announced by early fall. Construction could start next spring.

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PARK PLANS BLOOM

1-26-05

By Nate DeGraff, Staff Writer

News & Record

GREENSBORO

The park at Friendly Avenue and Elm Street will soon be much more than the gravel paths and close-cropped lawn found there today.

When it opens next spring, Center City Park will boast a pavilion, fountains, arbors and flowers galore, downtown supporters said as they unveiled the park's design on Tuesday.

Construction is expected to start June 1.

Downtown backers envision the 2-acre park attracting everything from concerts to quiet lunchtime gatherings. The green space is seen as the centerpiece of a city core that's attracting growing numbers of residents and businesses.

"I mean, we've got a lot of great things going on," said Alexa Aycock, co-chairwoman of the Center City Park Committee, "and this is just going to add to it."

The design process was led by Halvorson Design Partnership, a Boston-based landscape architecture firm that's been working on the project since June.

The firm based its blueprints on suggestions put forth by residents at more than 40 community workshops. Halvorson also considered how people move through the space during the dozens of events at the temporary park that's occupied the space since November 2003.

The new design shows tree-lined pathways and shady nooks scattered throughout the space. The center of the park features two performance areas that could hold a total of 1,300 people for concerts, plays and other events. Eventually, park supporters hope to rent the space for weddings.

But the schematic represents only a rough outline of the park's features; finer points of the design remain unknown.

Halvorson's Bob Uhlig said it's reasonable to expect brick pathways and granite water features. Twenty-five-foot trees will provide shade, and kids will be able to dart under a water-shooting fountain. The east side of the park is designed to connect with the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center on the other side of Davie Street.

The park will have restrooms but no food service, the design shows.

More details will be hashed out during the next few months, when designers and supporters will figure out which materials fit best with the site and the park budget.

The downtown group Action Greensboro is still trying to raise money for the $12 million project. Local foundations have already contributed about $6 million to buy the property, and foundations and corporations kicked in another $4.5 million to design and build the park.

That leaves $1.5 million to be raised for construction and an additional $500,000 for maintenance and operations.

Park supporters are still working on ways to dig up the money.

In the meantime, they're planning to borrow more than $2 million to finance the construction and pay off the debt as pledges come in, said Priscilla Taylor, executive director of the Cemala Foundation and a key backer of Action Greensboro.

"This is really a people's place," Aycock said, "and we think people will be excited to be a part of bringing it about."

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Center City Park Price Tag Unveiled

At Tuesday's council briefing, city officials learned it will cost taxpayers about $200,000 a year to maintain the park.

Greensboro, NC -- Greensboro's City Council finally got the answers it wanted about the cost to maintain Center City Park.

At Tuesday's council briefing, Action Greensboro presented a $400,000 budget that requires the city to pick up half the tab.

The $200,000 from taxpayers would mostly pay for park staff and equipment.

City Council members put the brakes on the park project last month when they couldn't get details on upkeep costs.

Downtown Greensboro Incorporated will pay the other half of the budget which includes the water fountain maintenance.

Action Greensboro's Susan Schwartz says the demand on the park drives its high maintenance cost.

"It'll be used every single day. It'll be used after dusk whereas other city parks close at dusk. It'll be used weekdays and weeknights seven days a week."

The maintenance costs could exceed what's been projected. Action Greensboro couldn't say for certain if it would ask for more city money in that event.

The group expects to begin site preparations within a week.

Finally they can begin construction on the final design of the park. The yearly maintenacne is steep and will be the second most expensive in the city. The most expensive park is Bicentenial which cost the city $400,000 a year. But I think The yearly maintenance cost for center-city park is worth it. It will have a very beautiful and unique water fountain that shoots over the walkway, two big lawns for concerts and events and other areas for benches, quiet nooks, art displays and eating areas. The cost of the fountain maintenance was a big worry for some of the city council members so Downtown Greensboro, Inc. will include the fountain maintenance in their yearly budget.

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Its really going to be a very nice park. The yearly maintenance expense shows that. Its not just going to be green space and will be built wil excellent qaulity materials. The park was designed by one of the top urban park designers in the country which design well known urban spaces in cities like Boston (Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc). I really like the fountain and the fect there will be a gathering space for outdoor theater and a larger gathering space for concerts. Alot of people will be in that park at night when all the nightclubs are packed. While the clubs and restaurants are packed at nights, im sure there will be concerts going on at the same time. Unlike other urban parks, this one will remain open at night.

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I must have missed this the first time around, but I just saw that this new park will only be 2.2 acres. Now I know how scare large parcels of land can be downtown in a city Greensboro's size, but I really wish the city could have something bigger (at least 5 acres). But I'm sure there are other, larger parks that are accessible from downtown.

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I must have missed this the first time around, but I just saw that this new park will only be 2.2 acres. Now I know how scare large parcels of land can be downtown in a city Greensboro's size, but I really wish the city could have something bigger (at least 5 acres). But I'm sure there are other, larger parks that are accessible from downtown.

Actually downtown will have a much larger park. It will be called "Rail Yard Park" and will be built alng the railroad track extending a mile through downtown.

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I love the fountain. Some people were complaining about the cost of maintaining the fountain but hey its not my money, its private money. Hopefully one day a new 30 story condo tower will be overlooking the park. :P

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Actually downtown will have a much larger park. It will be called "Rail Yard Park" and will be built alng the railroad track extending a mile through downtown.

That's cool. How big will it be?

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That's cool. How big will it be?

it will be about a mile long and somewhat wide at some points

That parking lot in this picture stics out like a sore thumb. i agree this should've been bigger.

Park-March-2004.jpg

actually that was the "temporary park" that was put in place until the final design was complete. They have totally dug all that up now including the parking lot and its nothing but dirt. You can now start to see the elaborate fountain take shape.

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here is a photo showing the progress of the park's construction. you can see one of the fountains taking shape. construction workers were testing the distance of shooting fountains that day. The park was designed by one of the top urban park/sqaure designers in the nation.

Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc. The firm designed Post Office Sqaure Park in downtown Boston.

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There will be two big lawns for concerts and theater performances. There will be alot of spaces were people can eat and sit quietly in peace.

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Here were some older pics I took of the temporary park while the final design was being created.

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here is a photo showing part of Post Office Park in Boston. This will give you an idea of the kind of qaulity we wil expect to see in Greensboro's park.

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The opening has been delayed. The park was suppose to open in October. but now they are shooting for November. But its coming along.

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