Consultants are proposing an ambitious plan to revitalize HemisFair Park that could include demolishing part of the Convention Center and relocating the Institute of Texan Cultures within the park. Calling it a framework plan, consultants working with the HemisFair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. presented the proposals to a packed house Tuesday night at Sunset Station. It was the third such public meeting to discuss the future of the 78-acre park, whose redevelopment has become one of Mayor Julián Castro’s top priorities.
The suggested concepts include streetcar lines in and around the park, a marketplace and mixed-use residential areas.
But the night’s most dramatic proposal was the idea to raze the western, older part of the Convention Center, built in 1968, to clear that area for more green space, open up the park to downtown and expose the San Antonio River.
HemisFair today features 15 acres of dedicated parkland, but only 6.9 acres of that actually is used green space, said Andres Andujar, CEO of the HemisFair Park Revitalization Corp.
“I think you need to open up that corner,” said meeting attendee Gregg Moon with the EastWest Design Group, adding that the change will give the Convention Center, which he believes has limited public use, an urban function. In exchange for removing the older part of the center facing South Alamo Street, with about 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, the center would be extended on its eastern half.