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Parking Project Timeline

This page offers a high-level view of the events of the last few years regarding overflow parking on the Overton Park Greensward. If you’d like a more detailed play-by-play, visit our blog archives.

Status Quo:
For roughly 30 years, the Zoo used up to a third of the Overton Park Greensward for overflow parking on days when its paved lots had reached capacity. By 2014, this was occurring roughly 60 days per year—generally the same good-weather days that the Greensward was most in demand for recreation.

After public protests, then-Mayor Wharton announced that the parties involved would have until 2019 to identify a permanent solution.

The Conservancy commissioned a parking study, gathering public input to identify potential solutions.

Mayor Strickland released a plan to end Greensward parking by reconfiguring the Zoo’s parking lots to add 415 new spaces (a number mandated by City Council). The agreement states that costs for the eventual solution will be split 50/50 by the Zoo and the Conservancy.

Park entities selected an architecture firm, Powers Hill Design, to create the final project designs. Costs are estimated at roughly $3 million. City Council asked the Conservancy to raise $1 million between April and June toward these costs to prove that the project could move forward.

Public meetings were held in the first quarter of the year to develop the final details of the plan. After some modifications, the final plan extends the Zoo’s main lot into the Greensward by approximately 2.4 acres (far less than what had been used for overflow parking), while erecting a berm that permanently separates the lot from the Greensward.

The first phase of the plan was implemented, with new spaces added to a reconfigured parking lot on Prentiss Place. In December, the City announced a pause before beginning work on the second phase, which would reconfigure the Zoo’s main lot. The purpose of the pause was to explore the cost of building a modular parking deck atop the Prentiss Place lot, a solution which would eliminate the need for altering the footprint of the Greensward.

The pause continued longer than expected as the City, Zoo, and Conservancy focused on the response to COVID.

The City announced that the parking deck estimates had come in above $5 million, well above the $3 million cost that was split between the Zoo and the Conservancy. Barring a new funding source, the City announced that work could resume on the original plan sometime in 2022.