From waterways to walkways: Civic Park at Hemisfair opens to public

Phase 1 of Civic Park features more than 130 trees, the great lawn and 5 water springs for wading

SAN ANTONIO – It’s a breath of fresh air for downtown San Antonio. Phase 1 of Civic Park at Hemisfair is now open to the public after months of construction. The park features a mix of waterways, walkways and green space.

“Now that people are actually walking and moving through the space, it feels like home,” said Meredith Balzen, director of external relations for Hemisfair. “It feels like the place that the people of San Antonio asked for.”

Civic Park sits on seven acres along East Nueva Street at Yanaguana Garden. It has more than 130 trees, a water channel and the great lawn, which will host events and concerts.

“The great lawn was made for people to come with their big picnic blankets and enjoy the beautiful green grass that we will have year-round,” said Balzen. “We also have a beautiful tree-lined promenade that takes you from the north into the south end of Civic Park. The Five Springs, which are big water features located on the south end of Civic Park, where people can dip their toes in, enjoy the water, have animals on leashes, just enjoy as a family.”

Hemisfair will hold an official grand opening ceremony at Civic Park on Saturday, but residents like Priscilla Sanchez and her family have already taken advantage of the amenities.

“It’s so convenient to be able to live here in the heart of downtown, especially with all these new buildings coming up and parks,” said Sanchez. “On the weekends, you don’t have to drive anywhere. We just step outside, and we have so much entertainment, so many events, so many festivals. It’s great.”

But this is just the latest step of the transformation underway at Hemisfair. Phase 2 of Civic Park is expected to be completed next year.

“We’re looking forward to breaking ground on Phase 1 this October,” Balzen said. “It’s going to be a hardscape area north of the great lawn, which we’re calling the Zocalo. It will also be a plaza right between South Alamo and Market Street that will be beautifully designed, treed, shaded, watered. That also includes an overlook of the mural that is located right on the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.”

Civic Park also has access to the River Walk and focuses on sustainability with trees and water options.

“Sustainability has been one of our main priorities. We’re making sure what we’re creating here will last the legacy throughout our lifetimes and many generations. Having water and trees here in downtown San Antonio was so important to us,” said Balzen.

Civic Park will make its event debut on Friday with Jazz’SAlive. It’s the first of many opportunities for San Antonians to enjoy the new park space.

“It feels like a victory within downtown San Antonio for our entire community, that we came from the World’s Fair in 1968,” said Balzen. “It kind of sat around for a little bit, but here we are at the precipice of this new generation of San Antonians to enjoy, to make new memories. We’re excited to have people here.”

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.