Civic Park at Hemisfair will finally break ground in 2022.

Voters first gave their stamp of approval to Hemisfair’s Civic Park in the 2017 bond program, when they allocated $21 million to build it. Civic Park has since split into a two-phase project, and construction on the first phase is expected to begin in January.

On Thursday, City Council approved a $27.9 million construction contract with the San Antonio office of New York-based Skanska USA Building Inc. The Historic and Design Review Commission OK’d plans for the first phase of Civic Park in November, which covers 5 acres of parkland at Hemisfair downtown, along the western side of the Henry B. González Convention Center.

Civic Park’s progress, like that of many projects, was hindered by the coronavirus pandemic, Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar said. 

“Come January, you will see machinery at that corner [of Hemisfair],” Andujar said. “That is long-awaited movement.”

As part of Civic Park’s first phase, Skanska will build out a tree-shaded promenade and a water feature called “The Shallows” designed to pay homage to the acequias of San Antonio with recycled water winding through Civic Park. The design also includes a great lawn for large events up to 15,000 people, free wifi, and a new public restroom with a changing station open to all.

A conceptual illustration of the Shallows at Civic Park.
A conceptual illustration of “The Shallows” at Civic Park. Credit: Courtesy / Kara Weaver – GGN

The total price tag for Phase 1 is $39 million, spokeswoman Thea Setterbo said, with private donations and revenue from Hemisfair’s ground leases making up $18 million of the total.

City Council also approved spending $609,822 from the city’s tree canopy preservation and mitigation fund to plant trees in Civic Park and $976,741 in contingency funding from the 2017 bond for additional design and construction from Seattle-based GGN, which provided the original design and phased redesign for Civic Park. GGN designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago.

Phase 2 of Civic Park will hopefully immediately follow the completion of Phase 1, Andujar said. City staff advised putting $18 million of bond funding toward the park’s second phase, a suggestion kept by a citizens committee overseeing the parks and recreation bond recommendations.

Construction for Phase 1 of Civic Park is slated to be completed in the fall of 2023.

This story has been updated to correctly reflect Skanska USA is headquartered in New York.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.