Urban Oasis: Houston's Sustainable Midtown Park & Garage Enhances Neighborhood Property Values
In orchestrating the design and construction of one of the most important new public amenities in the rapidly revitalizing Midtown area of Houston, Walter P Moore demonstrated our skills at project management, sustainable and integrated desifloodwater management, and coordination of multiple project participants and constituents. Opened to an enthusiastic public response in the summer of 2017, Midtown Park provides 400 safe and well-lit public parking spaces hidden below a lushly landscaped park that offers a range of activities for neighborhood residents and families.
Midtown, historically known as Houston's second neighborhood, flourished in the 1930s and 40s, but experienced urban decline as suburban alternatives grew in the following decades. Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA), initiated by community activists and funded by a dedicated tax-increment zone, was created in 1999 to help spur and manage economic revitalization of the area, which links Houston's downtown with its museum and medical districts.
Midtown's goal was to create a premier urban park space that is a focal point for the entire 771-acre district. Walter P Moore's parking specialists collaborated with our structural and diagnostics engineers to design an efficient column layout and structural system for the two levels of underground parking that lie beneath a multi-component, street-level greenspace with trees, a babbling brook, a concert pavilion poised in a pond, and a children's playground.
The "lid" of the parking structure was carefully sloped to create adequate depth for drainage piping beneath a variety of plantings, including trees that require up to five feet of growing depth. Walter P Moore partnered with national landscape specialist Design Workshop, who laid out the park and its many amenities. Flood berms at the parking entrance combined with an intricate system of drainage piping and pumps atop and below the lid, as well as robust waterproofing, protect the garage levels from both floodwaters and water seepage.
Midtown Park opened to rave reviews from neighborhood residents and has accomplished the MRA's goal of creating a new community amenity in the rapidly renewing Midtown area. Weekends see the park packed with families and their dogs, enjoying the playground, dog run, and greensward as well as concerts in the pavilion. The parking structure has been welcomed as a new neighborhood amenity, providing a high quality and safe supply of parking that reduces demand on street parking without creating another vertical parking structure in the residential-scale neighborhood. Six new private development projects have been announced within three blocks of the park, including mixed-use residential/retail, multifamily residential, and office projects. Collectively, these new developments are projected to generate an estimated $338 million in new taxable value in Midtown.