The *Center City Master Plan for Greensboro [PDF] commissioned by **Action Greensboro from the Cooper Carry Center for Connective Architecture in 2001, included a cornerstone attraction, Center City Park. The Cemala Foundation joined other foundations (including the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation and the Weaver Foundation who were lead contributors for the land purchase), businesses, and individuals and enthusiastically supported the purchase of land and the design and construction of the Park.
Contributions from Cemala to the Park included over $3.85 million and staff support for the fundraising campaign and for oversight of the Park's construction. Cemala's vision for Guilford County speaks to Center City Greensboro as the robust hub of the community. Cemala made this significant contribution believing that it was an investment in the future stability and vitality of Downtown Greensboro.
Completed in December 2006, Center City Park is a centerpiece for Downtown Greensboro, a signature urban space enjoyed by downtown residents, office workers, visitors, and all of Greensboro's citizens. It is a town square in the heart of the city located at the corner of Elm Street and Friendly Avenue. The mission of Center City Park is to serve as a central gathering place for Greensboro's residents and visitors in a setting that is both relaxed and lively.
The 1.9-acre Park opened after four years of planning and construction. Its central location complements and builds on the strengths of the nearby cultural and recreational facilities in the Greensboro Cultural Center, Greensboro Historical Museum, the Central Library, and the Greensboro Children's Museum. Center City Park incorporates themes and details inherent to Greensboro's history and culture and is designed to represent Greensboro as an open and welcoming place of diverse people. The support of and use of area artists in the Park's art features are important parts of that local emphasis.
The Park was designed by Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc. of Boston. Design elements were created with input from community groups. Halvorson worked with J. Hyatt Hammond, a local firm with significant local history and experience. Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc. is one of the nation's leading landscape design firms, producing award-winning projects in urban design, waterfronts and historic landscapes. Halvorson is best known for its attention to fine detail in design. The firm received the top national award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for the Park at Post Office Square in Boston - the only time a landscape has been honored by AIA.
*Center City Park is a key element in the Greensboro Center City Master Plan. The Master Plan commissioned by Action Greensboro in 2001, was supported by several events. Among the most important was the completion of a report on the future of Greensboro by McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm. The McKinsey Report detailed Greensboro's existing competitive position and suggested ways to improve for the future. There was consensus among the Action Greensboro foundation heads, an advisory group of local business, civic, and government leaders, as well as hundreds of interested citizens, that a Center City Master Plan would dramatically stimulate downtown development and investment. It would also ensure that development was focused, coordinated, and strategic. All agreed that a vibrant downtown was the number one indicator of a community's economic vibrancy.
The Center City Master Plan identified a park and greenway system as an important component for the revitalization of the Center City. The new system's park and open space will radically alter the livability and the perception of downtown. A 4-mile greenway was planned to circle the city, and the centerpiece of Downtown's green space was the Center City Park. The Plan challenged the people of Greensboro to expand the traditional concept of a park to include the entire public realm of the Center City.
**Action Greensboro is a 501 (c) 3 organization and an operating group of the Greensboro Partnership. It is led by local foundations, one of which is The Cemala Foundation. Action Greensboro is dedicated to creating an economically vibrant community where individuals can find the foundations to build their lives, to fostering an environment that attracts business and industry and which stimulates business formation and development, and to developing a dynamic urban center. Its primary focus areas are K-12 public school education, center city revitalization, higher education, young professionals, and community engagement.