About the Conservancy
There are parks.
And then there’s Waterloo Greenway.
Waterloo Greenway Conservancy creates and maintains an extraordinary urban park system and a restored Waller Creek, in partnership with the City of Austin, for the benefit of all. The Conservancy renews the natural environment, promotes play, health and wellness, economic vitality and mobility, and engages the community through outreach, education, cultural events, and the arts.
Waterloo Greenway is an iconic and flourishing public park, comprised of walking and biking trails, playscapes, open green spaces, and a healthy creek, enlivened by Austin’s diverse and vibrant community. Founded on the bedrock of great design, the park connects people with nature and one another. It is an enduring, beloved and vital green artery that serves as a model for sustainable urban life.
Grown from a vision for a community-centered, environmentally restored, and activated Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Waller Creek Conservancy was founded in 2010 by board members Melba Whatley, Melanie Barnes, and Tom Meredith. The organization launched an international design competition to revitalize the Waller Creek district the following year, resulting in the selection of the design team Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and Thomas Phifer and Partners.
A partnership with the City of Austin, formalized by a joint development agreement in 2014, makes this unique project possible. Construction of the capital project began in 2017 and will continue in phases. In 2019, Waller Creek Conservancy became Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, and the entirety of the project came to be known as Waterloo Greenway. The first phase of the project, Waterloo Park, will open in spring of 2021.
A Historic Timeline
Waller Creek Tunnel
On April 8, construction of the City of Austin’s Waller Creek Tunnel begins. The mile-long tunnel is designed to remove more than 28 acres of downtown from the floodplain, keeping people safe from flash floods and making lasting creek restoration possible. Learn more about the tunnel and creek restoration.
On April 28, Waterloo Greenway forms a historic public-private partnership with the City of Austin. Both groups commit $400,000 to fund the design and implementation of a new Waller Creek district master plan.
In November, Waterloo Greenway launches “Design Waller Creek: A Competition.” The international competition calls for the most innovative and qualified landscape architects, architects, and artists to present their ideas for remaking a now fragmented and undervalued lower Waller Creek.
Private and Public Support
Waterloo Greenway’s board of directors grows to 30 members. Together, they raise more than $1 million from private philanthropy for the “Design Waller Creek” competition. In October, the Conservancy holds its inaugural annual benefit concert along Waller Creek, drawing 2,000 supporters. In the November 2012 bond election, Austinites approve $13 million for the development of Waller Creek.
And the Winner Is …
The “Design Waller Creek” competition concludes with the announcement of the selected design team: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and Thomas Phifer & Partners. The Austin City Council unanimously votes to affirm the selected team on Oct.18, 2012.
In April, the Waterloo Greenway holds its inaugural “Pop-Up Picnic” fundraiser in Palm Park. It’s a huge success, bringing Austinites back to the soon-to-be-revitalized parks along Waller Creek.
Joint Development Agreement
In April, the City of Austin and Waterloo Greenway finalize the Joint Development Agreement. The document establishes the legal relationship and means for designing and implementing the design plan.
Creek Show, now a signature program for the organization, launches in November. Over 1,000 people come to this one-night event featuring five light installations on Waller Creek from local architects and landscape architects. It would grow to become a multiday event that attracted more than 60,000 people in 2019.
Creek Corridor Framework Plan
The Conservancy and City of Austin complete the Waller Creek Corridor Framework Plan. The document is the result of nearly a year of research, design, and stakeholder coordination. It sets up the foundation for all design work to come by establishing a framework for the creek, trails, and parks.
The Conservancy completes the first conceptual designs of a revitalized Waterloo Park. In May and September, a series of public meetings engage the community on a vision for the future of Palm Park, while learning more about its history.
Art first comes to Waterloo Greenway through internationally renowned artist Orly Genger’s interactive installation, Hurlyburly. The installation is the launch of a collaborative partnership with The Contemporary Austin. The Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation donate a $1.1-million gift to The Contemporary Austin for public art along Waller Creek. Learn more about art in the park.
Moody Foundation Grant
In February, Waterloo Greenway receives a $15-million grant from the Moody Foundation to support the revitalization of Waller Creek and create an iconic outdoor public amphitheater in Waterloo Park.
In September, Austin celebrates the start of construction along Waterloo Greenway with a groundbreaking ceremony at Waterloo Park. This signals the start of its first phase of the project at the 11-acre site. Learn more about Waterloo Park construction.
New Waterloo Greenway Headquarters
In November, a portion of Symphony Square becomes Waterloo Greenway headquarters. Learn more about the Square’s restoration.
Austin City Council unanimously approves an amendment to the Waller Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in May 2018. The result is approximately $110 million in new public funding for the Waterloo Greenway project.
Heritage Tree Rescue
On Feb. 24, a partnership between Waterloo Greenway, the State of Texas, and the City of Austin relocates a massive 300,000-pound heritage live oak from the State Capitol Complex to Waterloo Park.
On Aug. 21, the future of the Waller Creek project is publicly introduced for the first time as Waterloo Greenway. This unifying new brand recognizes the evolution from an ambitious idea to a wondrous destination that will be beloved by all Austinites.
Waterloo Greenway Day
Austin City Council declares Aug. 22, 2019, as Waterloo Greenway Day.