Whenever anything project of note is discussed, there will be detractors. No matter what’s presented, they will invent reasons for why a project, especially one using public money, will be a failure and should not be pursued.
Discovery Green in Houston was no different. Critics said it would be a haven for homeless, crime and drugs. They said nobody would travel into downtown to visit it. Quite simply put, they were wrong.
Discovery Green now attracts more than one million visitors a year, including 20 percent who drive all the way in from the suburbs.
The park acts as a valuable event space for the adjacent convention center.
The Houston Downtown Management District’s executive director estimates that the park has influenced $1 billion in completed and planned construction, creating a mini-renaissance in that section of downtown.
The Hess Tower, a building adjacent to the park recently sold for more money per square foot than any other office space in the city.
The park is also a keystone to the city’s bids for major events, like the Final Four or the Superbowl.
In short, the park has been a spectacular success in virtually every way. This isn’t to say that every public project will be a home run. It’s a reminder not to make decisions on fear and the opinions of a vocal minority who oppose anything that constitutes change. Embrace vision occasionally, and it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
To read a more detailed take on the story, see Houston Chronicle’s article (may have paywall).