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Phoenix Hance Park Master Plan To Be Unveiled Thursday

Downtown Phoenix is changing, and so is one it’s major parks.

Hance Park, which runs between 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue over the I-10, is going to undergo some major upgrades, thanks to a coalition of stakeholders who are making it happen.

The first phase of the park’s master plan will be unveiled Thursday at Artlink Phoenix’s annual Art D’Core Gala.

Kris Floor, Marcia Karacek and Tim Sprague are walking through the freshly cut grass of Hance Park.

“That’s the Burton Barr Library, the central library that’s right on the park … and so, right next to that, literally, in the center of the park, is where Central goes across the park and you’ll see a bridge that we’ll see here and that bridge will become the center focal point of all activity connecting the two sides together,” Sprague said.

They are all leaders of the Hance Park Conservancy, which has been working on a master plan to recreate the park for the past five years. Their plans are grand.

“Everybody realizes that whatever happens here in the park raises all the boats for everybody around,” Sprague said.

The bridge over Central Avenue will become the park’s urban plaza complete with restaurants, retail space and a skate park. The whole thing will be covered by a landmark structure they’re calling the cloud.

“It is a large structure that will span over the top of light rail and sort of cascade down on both the east and west sides of the park and create a nice shaded plaza,” Floor said.

The Conservancy began with the neighborhood when members of the Roosevelt Action Association got together and began planning what they could do with the park. Then, the City of Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department got involved and the public-private partnership that’s funding the project was born.

They held 12 public meetings to get community input on the park. Floor, one of the landscape architects on the project, decided where to begin.

“One of the big things we noticed is you can’t see the park from any street edge,” Floor said.

She wanted to open it up.

“A big focus for us was to open the view into the park from a vehicular standpoint, but then also open the view in from a pedestrian standpoint and do nice, wide, gracious sidewalks that lead down to the plaza level,” Floor said.

Floor envisions the east side of the park as a major events space. It’s playing host to the McDowell Mountain Music Festival this weekend.

The west side will be more of a neighborhood park, where smaller festivals and events like yoga in the park can take place.

“You watch and look at every major city in the world and the ones that have had the best urbanization and have been the most successful are ones that there always is a sense of refuge around there. So that folks have the ability to take their shoes off, walk in the grass, relax, go throw a Frisbee, and also it acts as a very good common gathering space for everybody," Sprague said.

The first phase of the project will focus on Central Avenue to 3rd Street.

“There’s going to be a skate park involved; there’s going to be an amphitheater involved; there’s gonna be a gathering place at the old fire station here on 1st Street and Moreland, will be transformed into a really cool food and beverage location,” Sprague said.

That should be completed in the next three years, and Sprague said they’d like to finish the entire project within eight years.

They believe this is the right time and place.

“This is the epicenter of most of the cultural organizations of Phoenix - the art museum, the Phoenix theater, the library, the Phoenix Center for the Arts, Irish Cultural, Japanese, Jewish Heritage. It’s all right here, and it’s also right next to Roosevelt Row and the real street arts organizations that have activated this area,” Karacek said.

Sprague is developing a 149-unit condominium project just south of Hance Park called Portland on the Park. He said in 2014 less than 6,000 people lived within about a half-mile radius of the park. That’s all changing now.

“With all of the projects that are under development right now, these are things that are in the ground, not on the drawing board, but in the ground being developed right now. That number will double in the next 24 months,” Sprague said.

To him, bringing that many people to the area means it’s time to invest in Hance Park.

“Because if you don’t have a center like this where you have a cultural and a real community center, there’s no reason to live here. And when you have the core of the park, it’s very valuable and not only in terms of social interaction but also economically,” Sprague said.

See related content: Hance Park Changes Force Relocation Of Phoenix Trolley Museum

Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.