DALLAS - Former mayors of Dallas joined the current mayor Tuesday to announce a funding milestone for the city’s newest deck park.
The Southern Gate Park is currently under construction by the Dallas Zoo in Oak Cliff, over Interstate 35 between Marsalis and Ewing avenues.
So far, a nonprofit group has raised more than $62 million for the first phase of the five-acre park.
Former and current city leaders say the park will attract people from all over and will help drive up the economy in southern Dallas.
"I don’t think this much money and this big of a project has been done in southern Dallas in the last 80 years," said former Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The former mayors are leading the charge for a vision to transform southern Dallas. Phase one of the massive park under construction on top of I-35 is expected to become reality by the end of 2023.
"It will be a place where families come not just for those of us who live in the southern sector. We are going to see people come from all over the region," said former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.
The park will have green space, a stage pavilion and amphitheater, educational programs, restaurants and shopping all neatly tied together with an open promenade.
The city leaders point out it will not be a carbon copy of Klyde Warren Park but a game changer for the long neglected and often overlooked southern sector of Dallas.
"It will provide green space and swats of trees in an area defined by masses of concrete," Rawlings said. "But it’s also going to bring people from all over Dallas and from all over our region into a neighborhood that frankly many would usually just drive right through without a second thought."
"For so long, Dallas has always had the spirit of nobody is going to leave downtown. Nobody’s going to ride a train. Nobody’s going to come to a park over the freeway. Nobody is going," Kirk said. "Well, we have proven if you build this stuff, people come, and they’ll keep coming."
Around 75% of phase one is already raised, but the call to action is to fast-track funding for the whole project and level the North Dallas vs. South Dallas playing field.
"This is our opportunity to put a stake in the ground and put our front yard on the city of Dallas when you’re coming up from Austin," Rawlings said. "Isn’t that cool?! You see this park, and it represents the whole city!"
The park’s first phase is expected to open in 2024.