Waller Creek Conservancy breaks ground on Waterloo Park project

The new amphitheater, partially funded through a $15 million gift from the Moody Foundation, will be completed in 2019.

The new amphitheater, partially funded through a $15 million gift from the Moody Foundation, will be completed in 2019.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect more accurately the percentage of funding raised for this project.

The Waller Creek Conservancy celebrated the official ground breaking of the Waller Creek project at Waterloo Park on Wednesday morning. The project consists of a chain of urban parks along the restored Waller Creek in downtown Austin, running 1.5 miles from Lady Bird Lake to 15th Street between Trinity Street and I-35.

When complete, in approximately 10 years, the parks will cover 37 acres. The project is estimated to cost $230 million.

The Waterloo Park phase of the project is the largest and is projected to open in late 2019 and cost $64 million.

The Waller Creek Conservancy has raised more than 60 percent of the costs for Waterloo Park through a combination of city of Austin funding and private donations.

The landscape architectural firm Michael van Valkenburgh and Associates, selected by a competition jury organized by the Conservancy, will design the parks according to a plan adopted by the Austin City Council in 2013.

In 2015, the conservancy hired CEO Peter Mullan, former executive vice president of Friends of the High Line. The High Line is a public, elevated and linear park in New York City that was built on the former New York Central Railroad track. Since opening in 2009, it has seen more than 4.5 million visitors annually and served as a model for urban planning, innovation and design, he said.

"Waller Creek will represent a new kind of public open space for the city of Austin, but one that taps into Austin's core DNA," Mullan said in a news release. "Waller Creek will be a place where members of the entire community can come together and celebrate their shared identity as Austinites."

The finished project will feature 3 miles of new bicycle and pedestrian trails, art exhibition spaces, an amphitheater for musical and cultural performances and educational community programming.

Council Member Sabino "Pio" Renteria grew up playing in Waller Creek, attending the nearby Palm School and playing in Palm Park. He spoke to the crowd at the groundbreaking, saying he remembers seeing a cat swim across the creek as a child through the crystal clear water.

"There is a rich history of community here and the Waller Creek Conservancy builds on that tradition of connecting people to one another in a natural, outdoor setting," Renteria said in the release.
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


MOST RECENT

Director of Elementary Schools Monica Gonzalez said June 1 that the district is looking into training teachers this summer to prepare for partial or full-time virtual learning. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD planning for blended teaching approach for school year beginning Aug. 18

A blended approach would allow the district to switch from in-person learning to virtual learning when needed.

Protesters and Texas Rangers stood face to face during demonstrations at the Texas Capitol on May 31. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
National, state, local officials continue to blame outside agitators for turning protests violent over the weekend

As violence erupted in Austin and cities across the country over the weekend, leaders from all ranks said outside groups usurped the demonstrations and turned them chaotic.

Richard Rhodes, the president and CEO of Austin Community College, said June 1 that the district is prioritizing the hiring of a new chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer. (Courtesy Austin Community College)
Austin Community College prioritizing hiring equity officer despite ongoing hiring freeze

The district brought up the hiring during a discussion about protests and demonstrations that have taken place over the past weekend.

Businesses shuttering their doors due to coronavirus restrictions lowered the sales tax revenue collected by cities in May compared to May 2019. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas comptroller reports 13.2% year-over-year state sales tax revenue drop in May

Tax collection revenue fell significantly in several sectors from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the comptroller's office.

Bull Creek
Study finds municipal water runoff responsible for more than half of stream flow in parts of Bull Creek

A recent study found municipal water sources, such as irrigation runoff or wastewater leakage, account for at least half of Bull Creek’s stream flow in some urban areas.

Austin-based taco restaurant Veracruz All Natural added a downtown walk-up window location in late May. (Courtesy Veracruz All Natural)
Veracruz All Natural opens new walk-up window at The Line Hotel

The other locations of the local taco restaurant remain open.

Demonstrators gathered at the Texas Capitol on May 31 to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas officials respond to demonstrations, unrest in wake of George Floyd killing

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster in Texas on May 31, while various city officials and law enforcment responded to protests and violence over the weekend.

Austin City Hall was one of several downtown buildings to be vandalized during this past weekend's protests. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin leaders, representatives react to weekend protests

Local, state and federal representatives took to social media throughout the weekend to voice their opinions.

Wanderlust Wine Co. is now open in downtown Austin. (Courtesy Wanderlust Wine Co.)
Wanderlust Wine Co. now open in downtown Austin

The self-pour wine bar is open in a limited capacity. Owner Sammy Lam said he is planning a grand opening once coronavirus restrictions are lifted completely.

Protesters march toward the Texas Capitol. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
PHOTOS: Demonstrators gathered in front of the Texas Capitol as protests against police brutality continued nationwide

Protests against the killings of Goerge Floyd and Michael Ramos took place throughout the weekend in Austin.

There have been 1,168 coronavirus recoveries in the county since mid-March, and active cases in Travis County are estimate at 2,011. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Weekend update: Austin metro coronavirus hospitalizations drop to lowest level since April 28

There have been 1,168 coronavirus recoveries in the county since mid-March, and active cases in Travis County are estimate at 2,011.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the Texas Capitol on Sunday, May 31, to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Concerns over violence from outside groups force organizers to cancel ‘Justice for them All’ protest at Texas Capitol; demonstrations persist downtown

Demonstrations occured across the nation to protest police brutality in the wake of the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.