Improvements on the way

Designs for the renovation of Heritage Park Plaza received approval from the Downtown TIF board on Friday. (Rendering courtesy of Bennett Benner Partners)

Fort Worth’s Downtown Tax Increment Funding (TIF) board unanimously approved designs for the renovation of Heritage Park Plaza on Friday, giving city officials and the public a better idea of what the long-awaited improvements will look like. The TIF board had approved $1 million for the project last year, but awarding of the funds was contingent on approval of the design.

Architecture firms Bennett Benner Partners of Fort Worth and Studio Outside of Dallas teamed up to create the design. Michael Bennett, president and CEO of Bennett Benner Partners, presented the design to the TIF board.

Plans for the park include structural repairs, reactivation of the fountains, lighting upgrades and accessibility improvements such as additional handrails and wheelchair ramps. A portion of the southern wall that reads “Heritage Park” will be removed to improve visibility inside the park, Bennett said.

To improve accessibility to the park, Bennett suggested a reconfiguration of Main Street, removing Paddock Park east of Bluff Street behind the Tarrant County Courthouse, and extending Houston Street to create another entrance to Heritage Park Plaza. An additional green field will be added along Bluff Street and Houston Street to be used as event space.

Bennett said the start date for the project has not been finalized.

Zim Zimmerman, city councilman and chairman of the Downtown TIF board, said he’s pleased with the design.

“You’ve taken a thorn and it looks like you’ve turned it into a real good rose,” Zimmerman told Bennett.

Heritage Park Plaza, designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, has been closed since 2007. In 2008, the park was listed among Historic Fort Worth Inc.’s Most Endangered Places.

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