BOSTON – (Realty News Report) – Levy Park, a redeveloped park in the inner loop of Houston, has been named a winner of the Urban Land Institute’s Open Space Award, a worldwide competition.
The six-acre park, located west of Kirby Drive on the south side of Richmond Avenue, opened in February 2017 after an extensive renovation.
The ULI announced the awards has announced at its annual Fall Meeting Tuesday in Boston. Madrid Rio Park was a co-winner. The annual award recognizes outstanding examples of successful large- and small-scale public spaces that have socially enriched and revitalized the economies of their surrounding communities and are selected by an international jury representing different facets of development. Levy Park, which underwent a $15 million revitalization and renovation, was one of five finalists, with the others from Lynwood, California; Fall River, Massachusetts; Changsha, China; and Madrid, Spain. Lynwood’s Ricardo Lara Linear Park won for Community Impact.
Upper Kirby District Executive Director Travis Younkin and Levy Park’s Park Director Stephanie Kiouses were on hand when the Urban Space Award was announced in the General Session. Chip Traseger, Design Director of the Levy Park project for OJB Landscape Architecture, was also at the conference, as was architect Natalye Appel, Natalye Appel and Associates, who was also a partner.
“We are thrilled that Levy Park was chosen for this award from projects both in the United States and embraced by residents and out-of-town visitors alike for its wide array of amenities and innovative design,” says Younkin.
Levy Park is a City of Houston Park and part of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, while operated by the Levy Park Conservancy, under the auspices of the Upper Kirby District Foundation.
“The Park’s user-friendly design, variety of adult and children’s programming and welcoming spirit have drawn people in and keep them coming back,” added Kiouses, Park Director for Levy Park. “This award validates the vision that several forward-thinking individuals had for Levy Park as an idyllic community haven in the heart of Houston.”
Midway, a Houston real estate firm, has developed a pair of private-sector bookends on the edge of Levy Park: the 16-story Kirby Grove office building and the Avenue Grove multifamily development. Midway has a long-term commitment to provide funds for Levy Park, which has a lot of programming and activities.
“Levy Park and Kirby Grove check all the boxes for the Urban Land Institute,” said Jonathan Brinsden, CO of Midway. “It is a public + private + philanthropic partnership. As an educational and research institute, ULI’s purpose is to study these innovative partnerships, identify best practices and transfer knowledge to ULI members and the wider real estate industry. If for no other reason than the world-class design of Levy Park, the aesthetics alone would be award-worthy, but ULI also considers how the private development has performed and the surrounding community has been impacted by the park.”
OJB Landscape Architecture (OJB) was the designer for the Levy Park revitalization. This is OJB’s third urban park to be recognized by the ULI, as the firm previously won consecutive Urban Open Space Awards for Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City (2015) and Klyde Warren Park in Dallas (2014).
Built with public funds and sustained primarily by private lease agreements with the Midway Cos., the Park features activity and event lawns, performance pavilion, dog park, promenade with seating and games, community garden and rain garden, both which harvest and reuse stormwater. At the heart of Levy Park is the unique Children’s Park, which offers imaginative, interactive sculptures, playful fountains and a 150-foot-long tree house situated among several large legacy live oak trees that were relocated on-site and provide a magnificent canopy.
Says Chip Traseger, FASLA and OJB Landscape Architecture Managing Principal. “Levy Park has become a top destination for Houstonians and a must-see open space for visitors. The Park’s series of unique play and entertainment spaces, featuring mature 40’ live oaks within the beautiful six-acre urban site, are truly inspiring.”