It’s Open! Finally, the long-awaited phase I of the new Hemisfair opened this weekend, and it was worth the wait. Throughout the opening weekend, special events where held to welcome locals and visitors for their first glimpse of this destination urban center. For residents of Alteza above the Grand Hyatt overlooking the park, it was an exciting time to explore their highly-anticipated new backyard. Tower of Americas also overlooks Hemisfair Park — an area that used to be a neighborhood before it was bulldozed by the city to make room for the ’68 World’s Fair.In 2009, a new chapter was opened with the creation of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation. And three years later, the city issued $30 million in bonds to fund three phases of redevelopment.
The 4-acre park is dynamic, featuring climbing structures, a splash pad, over-sized chess, sustainable greenery, public art installations, all of which are centered around the Yanaguana story. Enter Oscar Alvarado, a San Antonio artist whose mosaic sculptures and murals can be found all around the city, such as the San Antonio Riverwalk stairway. The story of Yanaguana will flow like the river throughout the park. For roughly five months, Alvarado and his team have meticulously set thousands of pieces of glass and porcelain into Gaudí-like benches, in undulating patterns on splash pads and on a nearly 5.5-ton sculpture called “PanterAzul,” the blue panther that chased the water bird — an anhinga — out of the blue hole.
A team of students with the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum’s MOSAIC Initiative will install a psychedelic-looking mural that will be installed for two or three years before another one takes its place. All of this excites Andres Andujar, Hemisfair’s COO who says PLAY, the Yanaguana Garden and the story of Native Americans all fused together to create an educational and engaging park that will be a destination for the young and the old, the resident and tourist alike. “It’s is so exciting and seems like sort of a dream,” Andujar said, reflecting on the process.
Vasquez calls the opening symbolic. “I think that it is pretty significant that our bringing back (the area) to life, it’s very symbolic,” He said. “Hopefully, many residents will be able to share in its treasure.” But there’s still much to do, including the next two phases of the project: Civic and Tower parks. However, like the San Antonio River’s creation when a water bird flew into a blue hole and out again bringing life to the region, the Yanaguana Garden is just the beginning. Future plans include redevelopment of the area to bring rental properties to the area. Alteza above the Grand Hyatt will remain the only ownership opportunity for those seeking a residence with direct access to this world-class destination park. The building’s sales pace has accelerated as the opening approached. There are currently less than three dozen opportunities remaining for purchase. This limited opportunity is quickly coming to an end, as homeowners recognize the scarcity of the offering. Luxury condominiums at Alteza include one-bedroom residences from the high $300s, two-bedrooms from the high $500s.
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