LINCOLN–(KFOR Mar. 29)–Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Maggie Stuckey-Ross, Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director, today announced the City of Lincoln’s intention to purchase land to expand the planned South Haymarket Park, located at Seventh and “N” streets. The announcement, made during the City’s final Grow the Great Life Week event, revealed revised park plans that include the addition of a hearth feature and a community building, as well as an expanded playground and skatepark.

“We are literally growing the great life by increasing the size of South Haymarket Park and creating even more green space for residents and visitors to enjoy,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “South Haymarket Park presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to build an iconic public space that will support the growth of residential living downtown, catalyze economic development, and spark tourism here in the quality-of-life capital of the country.”

The City plans to acquire two properties adjacent to the planned park location, increasing the size of the park by 2.3 acres to a total 8.5 acres. The properties are 540 “L” Street and 215 South Seventh Street.

(Courtesy of Lincoln Parks and Recreation)

Joining Mayor Gaylor Baird and Stuckey-Ross at the news conference were Sändra Washington, City Council Vice Chair; Randy Gordon, Lincoln Parks Foundation Executive Director; Jason Ball, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President and CEO; and Todd Ogden, Downtown Lincoln Association President and CEO.

“We are so excited to grow the footprint of South Haymarket Park and make this park happen for the community. It will be bigger, better, and more impactful than anything we could have ever imagined,” Stuckey-Ross said.

In January 2023, the City announced a proposal for a mixed-use development on the Block 5 site at 215 S. Seventh St. Stuckey-Ross said that over many months of discussions, the proposed developer and City staff made a mutual decision that expanding the park by adding the 1.54 acre lot would better serve the community and support additional economic development surrounding the park.

The West Haymarket JPA will take action at their April meeting to sell the Block 5 property to the Parks and Recreation Department. The private property at 540 “L” Street will be purchased by the Urban Development Department for $500,000. Funding for the acquisition of the two properties comes from two sources: a generous anonymous parks donor and tax increment financing revenue due to economic redevelopment in the South Haymarket area.

Development of the entire park will be funded by a combination of public and private sources, including the City of Lincoln, federal and state grants, and philanthropic donors. The fundraising campaign is led by Lincoln Parks Foundation, in partnership with Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department and the City of Lincoln. For more information about the campaign, visit southhaymarketpark.com. The City plans to break ground on the project in 2025 and the park is expected to open in Spring 2026.

Ogden said the park expansion and revised design creates even more benefits for downtown residents and visitors.

“Expanding South Haymarket Park elevates what was already a pivotal catalyst for our downtown community. With added green space and amenities, it transforms into an irresistible epicenter for family-friendly activities, cementing downtown as the ultimate destination for all ages,” Ogden said.

Ball said the park will impact the local economy by driving tourism and benefiting surrounding businesses.

“The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce is very proud to support this project. South Haymarket Park will be a beautiful addition to our downtown and a boon to our economic growth and vitality,” Ball said.

Friday’s news conference was the last in a series of five Grow the Great Life Week events March 25 to 29. Each day, Mayor Gaylor Baird and community partners highlighted City achievements and initiatives designed to strengthen the economy, grow the workforce, support local businesses, and enhance the overall quality of life in Lincoln.

For more information on South Haymarket Park, visit lincoln.ne.gov/southhaymarketpark.

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