Update: Carpenter Park opened to the public on May 3. The renovated park brings a variety of new neighborhood amenities, including downtown’s first public outdoor basketball court, an interactive fountain, and environmental play elements for kids. In an opening ceremony, Amy Meadows, president and CEO of nonprofit group Parks for Downtown Dallas, said the reimagination of the park is the result of over a decade of coordination and planning.
Dallas has opened a new park—the largest in the city’s downtown core.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit Parks for Downtown Dallas hosted an opening ceremony for Carpenter Park, a 5.7-acre space that runs along I-345 near Deep Ellum on the eastern edge of downtown.
Carpenter Park is the third of four downtown parks to be constructed as part of a public-private partnership between the Dallas Park and Recreation Department and Parks for Downtown Dallas. The park helps to create a strong east-west connection between Old East Dallas and downtown, planners said.
“The carefully planned network of urban neighborhood parks in Downtown Dallas is dramatically changing the experience of residents, businesses, office workers and visitors—indeed our entire citizenry—and will distinguish our center city for decades to come,” said Robert Decherd, chairman of Parks for Downtown Dallas, when construction on Carpenter Park kicked off in 2020.
From concrete plaza to community space
Construction on the project, a redesign of the road-bisected Carpenter Plaza, has been underway for the last couple of years and was part of the city’s 2013 update to its master plan for Dallas’ greenspace. When it opens Tuesday, the park will feature amenities including a basketball court, dog playing areas, and an interactive fountain. In addition to providing a place for residents to enjoy, D Magazine also notes that the city’s parks make a positive impact on attracting development and increasing property values.
The park’s design includes two significant pieces of public art. Robert Berks’ statue of John W. Carpenter was refurbished and reinstalled at the park entrance at Live Oak and Pearl Street. Robert Irwin’s Portal Park Piece, called Slice, was reconceptualized and retitled by the artist for the new site at the renovated park. The new title of the sculpture is appropriately called Portal Park Slice. “This is the only time in his career that Irwin has agreed to alter a work,” according to a spokesperson.
Carpenter Plaza was first dedicated in 1981.
Adding to Dallas’ Downtown Parks Master Plan
Carpenter Park will add to the around 23 acres of greenspace that the city has created over the past 15 years, including Klyde Warren Park and Main Street Garden. According to The Dallas Morning News, about $95.4 million has been raised between public and private investments since the city’s Downtown Parks Master Plan was first created in 2004.
Design of Carpenter Park is being led by landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Jones. In addition to helping design Dallas’ Civic Garden (formerly Belo Garden), Hargreaves Jones has worked on a number of big-name projects, including Sydney’s 2000 Olympics and Google’s Charleston Campus East.
“The Park and Recreation Department, the Carpenter Family, and Parks for Downtown Dallas have worked together for the better half of a decade to restore Carpenter Park as a community gathering place,” said Amy Meadows, president and CEO of Parks for Downtown Dallas, when the project was approved in June 2020. “The approval of the construction contract is a significant step towards making this park a reality for Dallas citizens and visitors alike.”
Here are more first looks at the new Carpenter Park:
Originally published on May 2, 2002, the story was updated on May 9 with additional information from the opening ceremony and photos by photographer Michael Samples
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