Q: When you started raising money, what was the pitch you made to donors? How did you convince people this would be a worthwhile use of their money?
A: When we explained the vision and they looked at the location, they all knew what we saw immediately and what the mayor saw: that if you build a park downtown, if you really do want high-rise living, apartments, condos, you need to have something for these people to do and to be a part of. If you have an apartment and you live downtown, where are you going to go?
I mean, there’s concrete everywhere.
Q: So you raised all this money to create the park. What will be the source of money for operations and maintenance?
A: There are four parts to the budget. We (the conservancy) own the restaurant, and Schiller del Grande operates it. We get a certain percentage of rent, so, if they do well, we do well. Also, City Council approved $750,000 a year for general maintenance. A gala every other year will be the third part of it.
The fourth part, we need businesses and companies around us to help us out with the programming. The programming is critical. If you have people here, the more you do for them, the more they’ll come back.
Q: Have you encountered any concerns that all the millions being contributed to Discovery Green might be reducing funding available for other charitable causes?
A: At the beginning, there was some concern out there among the green groups. But I think we’ve brought a more high profile to green space and urban parks and created a blueprint for other organizations that want to do green space. We’ve convinced them you can’t just have green space, because no one will come.
Here’s a very early story about the opening day festivities.
Beneath blue skies and a cool breeze, Mayor Bill White declared the opening Sunday of Houston’s first major downtown park– which took four years and $122 million to transform from a patchwork of parking lots.
Discovery Green stretches in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center along McKinney for about eight city blocks or 12 acres — surrounded by a dramatic view of Houston’s skyline.
“This is a pure urban park that will have programs every day. It will have more intense activities than some of our other parks,” said White, who had traded in his suit and tie for shorts and tennis shoes for the occasion.
Many in attendance for the “Family Day” entertainment were gushing with enthusiasm at the myriad of entertainment, including model-boat races, kites, sports demonstrations, music and dance.
Well, I hope they’ll come back, then. Tiffany got a call from one of her co-op colleagues this afternoon. She was staffing the information booth for the Green Market, and needed help because they had already given out all of their flyers and promotional materials. We loaded the kids into the minivan, made a quick stop at Kinko’s to pick up another 500 flyers, and I dropped her off at the entrance to deliver the reinforcements, picking her up again after a swing around the block. The place was clearly full, and the report from the market was that it was “crazy busy”. In fact, they were supposed to have about 500 postcards printed by the Downtown District to hand out, but they were all distributed yesterday, before the official opening. So, based on all this, I’d say the place is off to a roaring start. We’ll be there Thursday evening for the first Market day, along with a picnic dinner. I’ll get Tiffany to write up a report afterwards.
Anyone here visit the Green today? What did you think?