Hemisfair was first created for the 1968 World’s Fair. City governments have tried re-development through the years, but the area’s potential has never been realized. That endeavor is now being overseen by the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, by city mandate.
While that huge overall Hemisfair project is in its early stages, something happened last week that will propel it forward.
“We now have some great concepts in place and are now moving the concepts into final design," said Jimmy LeFlore, public art manager for the city of San Antonio.
Fiesta continues, and this week Hemisfair Park will be alive with music for an event called Fiesta Fantasias.
"Fiesta Fantasias is a free event: We’ll have music, food, beverages, arts and crafts, and the only laser light show set to music during Fiesta," said Judi Deleon, who heads the San Antonio Parks Foundation.
"The event takes place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 5 p.m. doors open until 10:30 in the evening. Did I mention it was free?" she said.
I asked her to tell me more about the synchronized laser light show.
Visitors to Hemisfair will soon start seeing construction on the southwest corner of the park.
City council recently approved the contract for Fisher Heck Architects, a San Antonio firm, to design the restoration and stabilization project for ten of the historic structures on the Hemisfair grounds.
A budget and contract battle looms as the city task force in charge of evaluating future finances takes a hard look at the pension and health benefits of city fire and police forces. The task force finished its work yesterday and is scheduled to be presented to council on February 19.
The terms of these benefits, which are far more generous than other municipal workers, were agreed to more than 20 years ago.
San Antonio is mourning the loss of one of its brightest stars. An assistant said Bill Sinkin passed away peacefully Monday evening, to the tunes of The Beatles' “Here Comes the Sun,” surrounded by family and friends.
His many friends say Sinkin’s spirit will live on in them and in his widespread contributions to San Antonio.
In a couple of spots along W. W. White Road on the city’s East Side, tall Crapemyrtle trees stand strong in the grassy easements at both of Bill Sinkin’s former bank buildings.
Tonight’s downtown party promises to be quite a huge -- and quite a loud -- event.
"Celebrate San Antonio is the city’s New Year’s Eve party," said Phil Nelson, president of the San Antonio Parks Foundation. "We expect to have about 250,000 people here on Alamo Street between Caesar Chavez and Market."
There will be plenty of live music coming from three separate, thematic stages.
More than 250,000 people are expected to once again crowd Hemisfair Park and the surrounding area, including La Villita, for the bash. It's a special time of year, said Judi DeLeon, executive director for the San Antonio Parks Foundation.
"This is a tradition," DeLeon said. "The carnival is here, it's a safe setting. We're right in the middle of downtown. SAPD will be all around us and we've got great food, great music."
A special guest was invited to be a part of the festivities, according to DeLeon, but Texas singer/songwriter Willie Nelson wasn't available.
The Playscape is the first phase of the overall redevelopment for the park, and will be located at the southwest corner of Cesar Chavez and S. Alamo. Wednesday, the commission reviewed and passed the design, and citizens got the chance to view the plans during a public event at the Magik Theater.
Plan for the Hemisfair Park development call for several distinct "areas," including an amphitheater, a reception area, an interactive water feature called The Shallows, and The Zocalo, which will greet people at the entrance to the park at South Alamo and Market.
As ideas continue to be generated for the redevelopment of Hemisfair Park, city council has approved additional funding to the agency planning the future of the previous World’s Fair site. The corporation is also seeking public input on what the park should look like.
In it’s 2014 budget city council has approved $1.15 million to the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation. Omar Gonzalez, Hemisfair’s planning and operations director, said that’s more than double what the organization has received before.