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Council to vote on ambitious plan for improved Heritage Park and surroundings

Posted March 5, 2020

rendering of steps to Heritage Plaza
An architect's rendering shows a renovated Heritage Plaza at top center, with a formal staircase and ADA-compliant canopy walk leading to the Trinity River. At top left is a reimagined north view of the Tarrant County Courthouse with improved pedestrian and vehicular access.

Fort Worth is poised to connect downtown with the Trinity River by launching the full development of Heritage Park and the surrounding area.

Restoration of the long-closed Heritage Plaza at the north end of downtown could begin within the next two years and could include new walkways to the Trinity River, a revitalized Paddock Park and improvements to vehicular and pedestrian traffic north of the Tarrant County Courthouse.

Heritage Plaza is located atop a bluff overlooking the Trinity River and serves as the gateway from downtown Fort Worth to Heritage Park, the Trinity Trails and Trinity Uptown. Due to safety concerns, the plaza was closed in April of 2007 and has remained closed.

Heritage Plaza is part of the Fort Worth park system and was designed as the city’s contribution to the Bicentennial of the United States by renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.

On March 17, the City Council will vote on authorizing a design procurement agreement with Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives Inc. (DFWII) and appropriating $1 million from the 2014 bond program to match DFWII funds for designing park improvements.

A public-private partnership has been proposed to pay for the $39 million project. The city would pay $19 million of the costs, with $12.5 million of these funds coming from a planned 2022 bond program. The remaining $20 million would come from partners such as the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, foundations and individual donors.

The work will include restoring Heritage Plaza and its water and lighting features, as well as structural repairs and new landscaping and irrigation. Paddock Park, just north of the courthouse, would also undergo renovation to alleviate the park’s sense of isolation from the rest of downtown. A set of formal stairs would connect Heritage Plaza to the banks of the Trinity River, along with a treetop walkway that would provide ADA accessibility.

A proposed schedule calls for the city to dedicate Heritage Park improvements in June 2024, coinciding with the 175th anniversary of Fort Worth’s founding.

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