Houston Chronicle | 10.03.2016
The concrete roof has been poured over the pavilion, and developers are in the final stretch of preparing Levy Park for its soft opening in mid-November.
A partnership between Midway Companies and the Upper Kirby Redevelopment Authority allowed for a multimillion-dollar renovation of the park in the 3800 block of Eastside.
Levy Park Conservancy's executive director Doug Overman says that much progress has been made at the six-acre parcel in the Upper Kirby District. There's already a completed office building operating at the site, and a residential building is nearing completion.
"As projects like these near their conclusion is when you really start to see transformation," Overman says. He notes the progress made on the pavilion, the park's main structure.
"It's a big visual change," he said, describing the structure designed by Houston architect Natalye Appel. The pavilion, which will stretch across 8,300 square feet (including a 1,400-square-foot stage), will also have restrooms and Levy Park Conservancy offices.
Appel is also behind the boardwalk, an elevated path that curves around the park, hugging the barks of some 70-year-old live oaks.
Since the project began in March 2015, plans have undergone a few modest changes.
"The original vision has really stood the test of time through the course of the design," Overman said.
That includes a 6,600-square-foot dog park, with divided areas dedicated to small and large pets, as well as a 4,400-square-foot community garden and 17,500-square-foot event lawn that will accommodate 2,800 people.
There will also be a 22,000-square-foot activity lawn and 8,600-square-foot rain garden to satisfy the city's storm water collection requirement.
"It turns a requirement into a real asset," Overman explains. "It's a really beautiful aesthetic component of the park with great seating."
Overman credits landscape architect James Burnett, whose firm designed the Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, with creating a smart play area for children that goes beyond the standard playground equipment.
"They've perfected these innovative elements for play areas," he says, describing a unique water feature that he says will be popular in the summer.
Other fun tidbits include the repurposing of the Upper Kirby double-decker bus, which had previously been sold. The district bought it back to use as a concessions stand that will sit in the park's beer garden.
Up next for the park's development is a restaurant. After the mid-November soft opening and formal opening on Jan. 7, the park's southeast corner will see the addition of a new dining establishment.
Overman said he hopes it will be a destination park, where people from all over the Houston area will drive to see concerts and participate in community programs.
"The park becomes a great amenity for tenants," he says. "It's part of the broader goal and vision of denser communities."