The long progression of The Real Estate Council’s first Impact Grant has finally come to fruition, and it proves that dreaming big makes a difference. A lot of people are taking credit these days for the Klyde Warren Park, and it’s true—there were a lot of cooks in this kitchen. But I can’t help but want the world to know that if it weren’t for The Real Estate Council, this deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway would not be here.
Sure, someone else might have stepped up with seed funding in our absence, but what made Klyde Warren Park happen has a lot less to do with the dollars raised than it does with the determination of our members giving their time and talent. Our model for building the city we imagine truly works. City, state, and federal government; civic organizations; and private donors all came together in the end. But it took a practical approach to even decide how to make this engineering wizardry happen.
The story goes back to 2002, when The Real Estate Council board of directors decided it was time to take hard-won capital to do something bigger than it had ever done before. The board, in its 2002 Strategic Plan, decided to fund an Impact Project with a major multi-year grant—initially $1 million but eventually $1.5 million. We requested bids for proposals for such a project, and 35 applications were received. Ultimately the competition was narrowed down to three projects, and one of those was a deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway.
The finalists were all worthy, but the idea of building a park out of thin air captured the imagination of the developers who fuel our organization, and it was decided: Let’s build a park!
So, in 2004 The Real Estate Council Foundation made the largest commitment it had ever made for a project so visionary and unusual, that if anyone outside of Texas had looked at the grant application, they might have laughed. Who builds a park over a major freeway? Well we believed it was possible—expensive, but possible.
The list of people in our organization who had a hand in making this happen is long, but our entire membership should be proud because we took the first step to build something magical. It is the type of project that inspires The Real Estate Council, and the tangible outcome of what we are all about—making our community a better place for everyone.
Each of us has unique talents that only we can contribute to the world. We can do so much more when we join forces. Through the power of this organization, we committed our energy, time, talents, and treasure to a vision some may say was folly. But here we are—nearly 11 years after the initial decision to go bold—and Klyde Warren Park will open at the end of October. The project took more than $110 million in private and public funds to build.
Thankfully our President and Congress created a stimulus plan that provided a critical $16.7 million. TREC contributed $1.5 million in funds, multiplied by innumerable pro bono hours of work by our members. Together, we created something out of nothing that, over time, will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic value to our city.
At The Real Estate Council, we’re going to take a moment to pat ourselves on the back and, with the others involved, bask in the glory of a great accomplishment. Then we’re going to back to work—because it’s time to start planning our next Impact Project.