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Waterloo Greenway unites vision for Waller Creek revival

Project connects 35 acres of downtown parkland

Drawing of a sunken grassy area with a white, thatched roof and people recreating on the lawn underneath
Moody Amphitheater rendering
Courtesy of Waterloo Greenway / Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

The project to revive and revitalize Waller Creek got a new name to go with its mission Wednesday—as did the nonprofit organization that founded it. The long-term parks project—probably the most ambitious of its kind in the city’s history—has been rechristened Waterloo Greenway, a name that clarifies and conveys the breadth of its vision.

Waterloo Greenway Conservancy (known until yesterday as Waller Creek Conservancy) made the announcement at Symphony Square, where the group purchased and renovated buildings for its offices and event spaces in 2018. The project’s goal is to create a linear park, or chain of parks, that connects a mile and a half of revitalized, existing parks along and around Waller Creek (and, possibly, a pontoon bridge that connects the north and south banks of Lady Bird Lake).

The result will be Waterloo Greenway: 37 acres of city parkland that runs through the eastern side of downtown from East 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake. The north end of the greenway will include a new facility, the Moody Amphitheater, and Waterloo Park, which has been under renovation for some time but is scheduled to reopen in 2020.

Plans include significant environmental restoration of lower Waller Creek and a bike and pedestrian trail that connects those spaces with Symphony Square, a planned green space called the Refuge, Palm Park, and the Waller Creek Delta, where the creek meets the river.

The rebranding is meant to signal the intention to create a major shift in the way the city views and uses its shared outdoor spaces—an ambitious plan to foreground Austin’s natural resources in the city’s shared identity.

A map rendering showing overhead view of a creek and surroundings drawn in green. The creek ends at a large river. There are parks and other sites marked along the creek.
Waterloo Greenway from above
Courtesy of Waterloo Greenway Conservancy

“Up until now, our vision was aspirational,” said Peter Mullan, Waterloo Greenway CEO and former executive vice president of the nonprofit that founded, funds, and oversees New York City’s High Line. “It was a concept, a collection of places and ideas, and it lacked a name to unify it. Our new brand recognizes the evolution from an ambitious idea to a wondrous destination that will be beloved by all Austinites.”

“What Central Park is for New York City, Waterloo Greenway will be for Austin,” added Austin mayor Steve Adler. “Because of this project, Austin will be smarter, greener, healthier, more creative, more connected, and more equitable.”

One of the conservancy’s most popular and successful projects to raise visibility and funding for the project has been the Waller Creek Show, a public event featuring light-based installations by local designers in the lead up to winter holiday season. This year’s show will be November 7-17.