After closing to the public in 2011 for work expected at the time to last until 2015 but extended to comical length by the construction woes of the Waller Creek Flood Control Tunnel, followed by the development of a plan for the 11-acre park’s renovation by the Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, the single largest greenspace in downtown Austin is finally, actually, really reopening for real on Saturday, August 14.
Here’s how the Waterloo Greenway folks plan to commemorate this historic occasion:
Waterloo Greenway Conservancy announced today that the highly-anticipated Waterloo Park and Moody Amphitheater will open to the public on Saturday, August 14, 2021. In partnership with the City of Austin, the Conservancy will commemorate its grand opening with an inaugural all-day event called CommUNITY Day — a free, family-friendly festival with dozens of activations and live performances representing cultures from around the world, all in the reimagined 11-acre park.
Waterloo Greenway leadership, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, and other special guest speakers will kick off the day with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially unveil the park. Immediately following, all Austinites are invited to explore and enjoy Austin’s largest downtown greenspace.
CommUNITY Day will activate every corner of Waterloo Park, with musical and performing arts at Lebermann Plaza, kids’ activities at the Kitty King Powell Lawn, STEM programming at the Meredith Heritage Tree Deck, and environmental programming in the Luci and Ian’s Family Hill Country Garden. Booths from community partners, such as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Capital Metro, and Art from the Streets, will be located throughout the grounds. Later that evening, Waterloo Park will host a “Taste of Austin” concert showcase at the Moody Amphitheater, featuring Austin live music staple performances.
— Waterloo Greenway Conservancy
With the fancy new Moody Amphitheater arrives the very first concert at the transformed park, following up its original long musical history with an inaugural show by legendary local blues-rocker Gary Clark Jr. on August 20:
In collaboration with C3 Presents, Waterloo Greenway today also announced that Austin icon and Grammy Award-winning musician Gary Clark Jr. will be the first ticketed concert to take place at Moody Amphitheater. On August 20, the sounds of his electric blues will fill the 5,000 capacity amphitheater. The Conservancy and C3 are honored to celebrate the first show at this incredible new venue with a performance from one of Texas’ most beloved artists.
As part of Waterloo Greenway’s partnership with C3 Presents and Live Nation, 100 free tickets for this concert and all future concerts at the amphitheater will be available to the community through a lottery system, underscoring the Conservancy’s commitment to making the arts and outdoor space accessible to all. Tickets will go on sale Friday, June 25 at 10:00 a.m. and be available at Ticketmaster.com.
— Waterloo Greenway Conservancy
With coverage of the infrastructure improvements planned at Waterloo Park dating all the way back to 2007 on this very site, you could forgive us for being a little impatient about the extensive delays, view corridor debacles, tunnel lawsuits and everything else keeping this space inaccessible to the public for nearly a full decade — but as the park finally rides again in a downtown Austin nearly unrecognizable from the time of its 2011 closure, we don’t think it will take long to forget these frustrations.
With a design team including architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, local studio Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the local landscape experts at dwg., infrastructure specialists AECOM, and general contractors DPR Construction, the Waterloo Park project represents the collaborative effort of hundreds — the relocation of heritage trees to the park alone was a massive undertaking, and that’s just one tiny piece — even before you factor in the incredibly ambitious tunnel construction project predating it below our feet.
Though to most visitors it’s a flashy new park first and foremost, the role of Waterloo Park’s flood control tunnel intake for the temperamental Waller Creek also makes this site a piece of vital infrastructure catalyzing development in the surrounding area — without it, the risk of flood in this area would challenge a laundry list of adjacent new buildings including the redevelopment underway at the former Brackenridge site, the upcoming plan for a two-tower project at the former HealthSouth site that could bring much-needed new residents to the area, the Symphony Square mixed-use tower we’re now apparently calling the Waller that broke ground this month, and the nearly-complete Alexan Waterloo apartments expected to open later this summer.
From inside the revamped park itself, the view from all angles includes traces of sprouting new towers — a reminder that as downtown continues to grow, Waterloo Park will only become more valued as a central recreational amenity: