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13 years later, Midtown Park is emerging

Houston Tomorrow concept

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Midtown Park, first envisioned as McGowen Green by Houston Tomorrow in 2002, is now coming to fruition at the McGowen light rail station, albeit at about half the size and with a different name, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle:

Renderings unveiled last week of Midtown Park, also known as the Superblock, show an urban park space with an artificial bayou, a concert pavilion, a 300-unit multifamiliy development and a public underground parking garage. Retail and colorful streetscapes will run throughout the development, which will have access to the Metro rail line at McGowen and boast downtown skyline views.

“This is a really big deal for the community,” Matt Thibodeaux, president of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority, told a group of city and business leaders during Thursday’s long-awaited groundbreaking.

“Midtown Park will become the premier urban park in the heart of Midtown,” said Bob Sellingsloh, chairman of the Midtown group. “The highly anticipated project will bring a new level of vitalization and act as a catalyst to attract new development.”

An article in the Houston Press in 2008 says, “Crossley envisions McGowen Green (as he has branded the proposed park) as a natural haven, complete with ponds and forested creeks, lined on the perimeter by New York-style street vendors. ‘Some of it would be real natural, like the Ramble in Central Park, almost like a bird sanctuary. And another part of it could be more like [New York’s] Bryant Park, where people just gather and hang out.’” Today’s concept is somewhat similar to that vision.

Houston Tomorrow launched a website for the idea, which it called McGowen Green. The site proclaimed the idea was “a proposal for an active and romantic urban park that will create a string of highly prized addresses in Midtown Houston, and will help to transform Houston’s image in the 21st Century.”

As others joined the call for the park, it developed further as an economic engine, and a proposal by architect Ian Rosenberg suggested an underground garage that would help pay for maintenance as well as reduce the need for parking at each of the developments that occurred around it. With the election of Mayor Bill White, the idea was basically transferred to the downtown site in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center as the highly successful Discovery Green was created.

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