Symphony Park getting $10 million overhaul to make it SouthPark’s new town square

Symphony Park getting $10 million overhaul to make it SouthPark’s new town square
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Today, Symphony Park is something of a hidden gem. This 7.5-acre oasis of greenery plays host to the Charlotte Symphony on summer Saturdays and family picnics during good weather.

But most shoppers at nearby SouthPark mall don’t even know it exists — and it lays empty most of the year.

Symphony Park

Symphony Park

That’s all about to change.

The city of Charlotte and mall owner Simon Property Group have signed a letter of intent to pump up to $10 million into Symphony Park to turn it into a true town square.

The bandshell where the symphony performs would remain a centerpiece, perhaps upgraded with a corporate sponsor.

But the city and Simon hope to add:

  • Children’s play spaces
  • Public art
  • Public plaza
  • Promenade leading to the mall
  • Kiosk for food and beverage
  • Restrooms

Simon is also interested in expanding pop-up retail into the park, perhaps via shipping containers.

Rendering via city of Charlotte

Part of a bigger investment in SouthPark

The project builds on the $10 million capital improvement plan the city approved for SouthPark nearly two years ago.

[Agenda story: How should SouthPark use a $10 million investment in its future?]

Much of the money will go toward making SouthPark more pedestrian friendly, particularly near the massive intersection at Sharon and Fairview roads. A signature project will create a “SouthPark Loop” walking and biking trail around the area.

The preferred alignment for the SouthPark Loop

The process came up with a “playbook” of several dozen total projects the SouthPark neighborhood would like, published in July 2018. Only a small fraction of them will be covered by the city’s initial $10 million, but neighborhood advocates have spent the year since then trying to line up private money to help.

The City Council also appropriated another $5 million in last year’s budget to help match any corporate donations. That’s where the money for the Symphony Park project comes from, City Councilman Tariq Bokhari said. Simon Property Group is putting up the rest.

Charlotte and Simon are now starting to design the concept for the new Symphony Park.

That’s why the only rendering we have so far is so rough, and is very subject to change. But the idea is to create a civic asset similar to Discovery Green in Houston, Sundance Square in Fort Worth, The Lawn on D in Boston, Campus Martius Park in Detroit or Bryant Park in New York City.

A similar example closer to home is LeBauer Park in Greensboro, a 4-acre park downtown with a performance area, iconic artwork, splash pad and playground, food pavilions and food truck parking.

LeBauer Park, Greensboro

There’s no timetable yet for construction.

We will keep you posted as more firm details emerge.

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