Big changes are coming to a local landmark. It’s hard to imagine central Phoenix without Margaret T. Hance Park. For decades, the beloved park has been a popular destination for residents and visitors alike who want to enjoy fresh air and soak up the sunshine. 

Located on the northern edge of downtown, atop the “deck” of the I-10 freeway tunnel, Hance Park attracts millions of visitors annually. Situated between Fifth Ave. and Third St., the public park offers plenty of recreation space, including a playground and lighted sand volleyball court. 

However, in the years since the park’s unveiling in 1992, there have been many discussions about what changes need to be made to better serve the community. Now, those ideas for improvement are being put to the test as the city moves forward with an extensive revitalization project that will breathe new life into the park and benefit not only residents, but also the local economy.  

The massive project is the result of a public-private partnership between the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, Hance Park Conservancy (HPC) and Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA). Collectively known as the Hance Park Partner Coalition, they are working together to develop plans, raise money and gauge public interest and solicit feedback.  

The park, which is home to the Japanese Friendship Garden, Burton Barr Central Library, Phoenix Center for the Arts and Irish Cultural Center, will see some highly-anticipated upgrades. 

Current plans show an amphitheater, jogging loop, skate park, and interactive water feature. That’s in addition to a designated food truck area and several eateries, including a former fire station turned into a restaurant. Project planners hope to double the number of trees in the park and add more shade structures and public art. With an estimated price tag of $100 million, both public and private sources will fund the project, which will most likely be completed in multiple phases.  

While PCA is leading the fundraising campaign, Parks and Recreation staff are seeking feedback from local residents. The most recent park design concepts were unveiled at a public open house in May, and the city continues to collect comments and opinions on the plans, produced by renowned landscape architects Hargreaves Associates. 

Gregg Bach, public information officer for Phoenix Parks and Recreation, says the project shows a lot of promise and potential. “A revitalized Hance Park is one component to making downtown more livable,” he said. “There is a tremendous amount of growth and development underway in the downtown region, and the construction boom of high-rise residential buildings creates a need for areas where residents can enjoy public green space.” 

Hance Park hosts many special events, cultural festivals and concerts every year, and Bach believes the revitalization project will make it an even more attractive venue for such entertainment.  

“Downtown is becoming a place where people want to live, work and spend their free time, and they desire an environment where an amenity like Hance Park is within walking distance of their home and office,” he said.

Although the plans are exciting, an official start date has not been announced, as the city is currently focusing on gathering public thoughts and making modifications before getting started. It could take around three years, but it all depends on public approval, funding and how quickly crews complete the renovations. 

Residents are encouraged to check out the design concepts online and provide their opinions. 

For more: https://goo.gl/7XN4V8.