For several years now, the city of Phoenix has been working on plans to revitalize Margaret T. Hance Park. The 32-acre park, completed in 1992, is situated south of McDowell Road, between Third Street and Fifth Avenue.
The city revealed the latest revitalization plan during an open house held on Monday, May 21, at the Irish Cultural Center. The open house gave community members a chance to review the plan, which includes or modifies some elements of a 2016 plan that would have cost $118 million.
“This is the next evolution of the plan,” says Judy Weiss, deputy director for management services with the city’s parks and recreation department. "We had to bring it down a couple notches," she says of the projected cost.
The current plan isn’t set in stone just yet, because the city is still gathering public input. So, it’s too soon to know what the revitalization will cost. “We’re hoping to keep it under $100 million,” Weiss says.
The working plan calls for improvements in three sections, dubbed the Valley, the Canyon, and the Plateau. Each was part of the 2016 plan, but the details have evolved.
The Canyon is located in the center of the site, where the park is set atop the freeway deck. The Valley sits to its west, adjacent to the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Irish Cultural Center. The Plateau is located to the east, where the library and arts center are situated.
At this point, planned amenities include an interactive water feature, amphitheater, jogging loop, skate park, and garden. The plan also includes a former fire station transformed into a restaurant, plus a food truck area and cafe.
It doubles the number of trees in the park, and includes numerous shade structures, including a public-art piece that’s been scaled back for this design.
Using the current plan, the cost could run less than expected.
“Right now, we’re thinking $80 million for the entire cost,” says Jing Fan. She’s an associate with New York-based Hargreaves Associates, which created the current design. “We’re thinking about $30 million for phase one, and $50 million for phases two and three together.”
What happens to the park moving forward will depend on a couple of factors.
The city is working with Hargreaves Associates to finesse the plan, based on community input. People who didn’t attend the May 21 open house can still weigh in online.
Meanwhile, the city has two partners working to raise funds for park improvements. Collectively, they're called the Hance Park Partner Coalition.
One is the Hance Park Conservancy, a nonprofit founded in 2010 to support revitalization efforts. The other is Phoenix Community Alliance, a nonprofit started in 1983 to promote public and private partnerships in downtown Phoenix.
When park renovations begin, and how long they take, will depend on how the fundraising goes, Weiss says. The city plans to roll the design out in three phases, so Weiss says they won’t need full funding to begin the first phase.
“We could start at the end of 2019, depending on how our funding partners do,” Weiss says. Hargreaves Associates has a seven-year contract, which started in August 2017. So, the city wants to wrap the project before that expires. “If there’s a lot of momentum, we’ll finish the project faster," Weiss says.
Fan estimates that it will take a year or two to complete the first phase. “The later phases will take less time,” she says. If they start late next year, and spend a year on each phase, renovations will be done in late 2022. But it’s too soon to know whether that will be the case.
For now, Fan is focused on gathering community feedback, so she can modify the design accordingly. Once that happens, the city will present an updated plan.
To follow ongoing developments, visit the Margaret T. Hance Park Revitalization page on the city’s website.
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