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Southern Gateway Park Brings Oak Cliff Residents Together
May 17, 2022

Southern Gateway Park Brings Oak Cliff Residents Together

The Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation announced on April 19, 2022 that it has raised more than $62 million of the estimated $82 million needed to bring the first phase of the Southern Gateway Park to life, including grants from four North Texas philanthropic organizations – The Rees-Jones Foundation, the Communities Foundation of Texas (W. W. Caruth, Jr. Fund), the Eugene McDermott Foundation and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. The announcement was made at an event hosted by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and attended by Southern Gateway Alliance Co-Chairs Ron Kirk and Mike Rawlings, as well as other civic and community leaders.

Southern Gateway Park is currently under construction, spanning Interstate I-35E between Ewing and Marsalis Avenues, directly adjacent to the Dallas Zoo. Slated to open in 2024, the five-acre “park with a purpose” will be a key catalyst for closing the opportunity gap that was created when the highway was originally built in the 1950s through the middle of Oak Cliff.

Southern Gateway Park is currently under construction, spanning Interstate I-35E between Ewing and Marsalis Avenues, directly adjacent to the Dallas Zoo. In addition to native landscape and ample green space, park amenities will include: a stage and pavilion for concerts and live events, an inclusive children’s playground, outdoor classroom space for local schools and organizations, a multi-purpose building for dining and community events, integrated history exhibits, a dedicated food truck area, interactive water features for those hot Texas days, and so much more.

“Southern Gateway Park will epitomize Dallas’ innovative and indomitable spirit,” said Mayor Johnson, who has named parks as one of his top priorities. “Through this public/private partnership, we are covering up a bustling concrete freeway and creating a peaceful and fun neighborhood gathering place – a much-needed respite for our families in Oak Cliff – that will reconnect long-divided communities and help us build a stronger, healthier and more vibrant city. I am thrilled with the significant progress toward the park’s fundraising goals, and I am excited to bring this amazing asset to life in southern Dallas.”

The park is a public/private partnership with the City of Dallas and the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation, with support from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

“We applaud the community-driven approach of Southern Gateway Park, which will soon re-connect the neighborhoods of North and East Oak Cliff. By eliminating the highway barrier that has artificially divided these neighborhoods for decades, residents of both communities will be able to enjoy together beautiful green space and recreational facilities and amenities previously unavailable,” said T. Hardie, President of The Rees-Jones Foundation, which committed $5 million to the project.

“The bridge park will not only provide these recreational assets, but we are hopeful that it will also spur economic development that will benefit all the residents throughout Oak Cliff. This project has showcased how thoughtful community leadership can effectively mobilize governmental and philanthropic resources to achieve long-term benefits for the people they serve.”

The Rees-Jones Foundation staff joined April Allen, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation, at a press event at Dallas City Hall announcing a fundraising milestone for the Park.

Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) also re-affirmed its commitment to the park with the announcement of a $3.5 million grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund. CFT previously provided a grant to underwrite the Park’s equitable development plan, which was unveiled last summer and is critical to fulfilling the park’s mission.

“At CFT, advancing equity in the community is one of our main strategic goals, and Southern Gateway Park embodies the type of projects we want to support,” said Dave Scullin, President and CEO, Communities Foundation of Texas. “We were honored to help in the development of the Park’s equitable development plan, as a first step in involving the community in this transformational project. This additional grant will help bring that visionary plan to life. We’re hoping CFT’s investment will serve as a catalyst for others who want to be part of building a thriving community with more connectedness and belonging for all.”

In addition to grants from The Rees-Jones Foundation and CFT, the Eugene McDermott Foundation has contributed an additional $1 million to the park, bringing their total commitment to more than $2 million. The Rainwater Charitable Foundation has also contributed $1 million to the project.

April Allen, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation, expressed gratitude for the support and encouraged everyone to get involved in whatever way they can to continue the momentum.

“Southern Gateway Park is being created by and for our community, and it’s going to take everyone doing their part to make this park a reality,” Allen said. “Obviously we still need donations of any size to reach our goals, but we also need people to advocate for the park with their representatives at every level of government – or simply join our online community to learn more and share updates with your networks as we grow.

“This is an incredibly exciting time, and we are grateful for the support we’ve received from our champions in both the private and public sector. Together, we have an opportunity to build something that will have a generational impact on our city.”

About Southern Gateway Park

Southern Gateway Park is a five-acre bridge park spanning Interstate I-35E between Ewing and Marsalis Avenues, directly adjacent to the Dallas Zoo. Slated to open in 2024, this “park with a purpose” will transform the city’s southern sector and be a key catalyst for closing the opportunity gap that was created when the highway was originally built in the 1950s through the middle of Oak Cliff.

The park is a public/private partnership with the City of Dallas and the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation, with support from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The Foundation enlisted global design firm HKS and renowned landscape architecture firm SWA to lead the park’s planning and design. TxDOT began construction on the underlying deck structure for the first phase of the park last summer and expects to be complete by the end of this year. Once open, the park will attract an estimated 2 million visitors annually and generate more than $1 billion in economic impact in its first five years.

In addition to native landscape and ample green space, park amenities will include: a stage and pavilion for concerts and live events, an inclusive children’s playground, outdoor classroom space for local schools and organizations, a multi-purpose building for dining and community events, integrated history exhibits, a dedicated food truck area, interactive water features for those hot Texas days, and so much more.

The new bridge park also will tie into complete streets and pedestrian boulevards lined with more than 250 trees to increase the canopy and mitigate the impact of an urban heat island, as well as laying the groundwork for potential connections to the Dallas Streetcar line and a network of hike-and-bike trails. Together with the Dallas Zoo’s Master Plan, the collective capital investment will exceed $250 million, the largest investment in Southern Dallas’ history.

Foundation Involvement

The Rees-Jones Foundation has an interest in improving North Texas for its residents through community investment. The Southern Gateway Park is an important community-driven project for the city, and one that showcases how thoughtful community leadership can effectively mobilize governmental and philanthropic resources to achieve long-term benefits for the people they serve.



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