Apr 20, 2022 - News

Dallas' Southern Gateway Park could stitch Oak Cliff back together

A rendering of a nice looking deck park
A rendering of the forthcoming Southern Gateway Park. Illustration courtesy of HKS

Three Dallas mayors say a deck park built over Interstate 35E can stitch Oak Cliff back together, including the remnants of one of the country’s only remaining intact Freedman’s Towns.

Driving the news: Current Mayor Eric Johnson and former mayors Mike Rawlings and Ron Kirk gathered Tuesday at City Hall to celebrate reaching 75% of the funding goal to build the first half of Southern Gateway Park.

  • The park will span the highway between Ewing and Marsalis avenues near the Dallas Zoo.

Why it matters: That section of the interstate severed southern Dallas when it opened in the 1960s and gutted a historically Black community.

  • The mayors each echoed "Field of Dreams," saying if the park is built, the opportunities will come.

Between the lines: Southern Dallas houses 60% of the city’s population but accounts for only 10% of the city’s property value, according to an analysis of the region by economist J.H. Cullum Clark.

  • The neighborhood, part of Oak Cliff, is predominantly Black and Hispanic.

Details: The 5-acre park, which is designed by HKS Architects, will be completed in two stages and will be similar to the popular Klyde Warren Park over Central Expressway.

  • Southern Gateway Park will include fountains, parking for food trucks and pavilions.

By the numbers: The first phase of the project has $62 million of the $82 million needed for completion through a public-private partnership, which includes the Texas Department of Transportation.

  • $7 million comes from the city’s 2017 bond program.
  • $40 million comes from North Central Texas Council of Governments.
  • $35 million will come from private donations to the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation, which still needs to raise $20 million dollars.

What they’re saying: Rawlings urged more donors to give money toward the effort and start raising funds for the second phase of the project, which he called a "big opportunity" for southern Dallas.

  • "This is our opportunity to put a stake in the ground, to put a front yard on the city of Dallas as you’re driving from Austin," he said.

What’s next: The first half of the park is slated to open in 2024.

  • The second phase is expected to cost $90 million, the bulk of which could come from federal infrastructure dollars.
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