HR&A’s work programming public spaces is cited in the Wall Street Journal


The Wall Street Journal has published an article, entitled “Cities Want Young Families to Play and Stay,” that explores the range of open-space amenities and play-oriented programming that some cities are offering constituents in an effort to attract families to downtown areas.


HR&A Vice Chairman Candace Damon, quoted in the article alongside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, describes the economic and political value of the family demographic, and the rising popularity of amenities that appeal to both parents and children. She says:


“People don’t get civically engaged until they are relatively settled in their personal lives. They care about schools, they worry about potholes and the ambulance going too fast.” If cities don’t retain that 30-and-up demographic, “then you don’t have people who are going to care and ensure they remain good places to live.”


HR&A is pleased that one of its major parks projects, Hance Park in Phoenix, Arizona, is referenced as a prime example of this type of forward-thinking programming outlined in the article. Hance Park, which will feature splash parks, playscapes, and restaurants to appeal to all ages upon completion, is featured as a key example of these playful offerings. HR&A worked with a design team led by !melk to advance a master plan for the park, providing advisory services related to operations and maintenance funding and governance to ensure the park is active, achieves community goals, and can be sustained financially.


HR&A is at the leading edge of a movement to design, operate, program and fund the development of new urban open space. In the past few years we have consulted on dozens of parks and public open spaces and have noticed a trend in the growing number of German style beer gardens that cities and communities are asking to be included in their parks. “It’s about creating a space where adults can gather with children, without having to be solely focused on taking care of the kids.”, Candace says. This is yet another example of how parks can serve as both public amenities and as catalysts of economic development. Our approach enables communities to use open space to create value through strategic connections with adjacent real estate and civic assets; to quantify that value through robust, data-driven economic models; and, where appropriate, to channel that value towards open space revitalization and maintenance.


Read more about our approach to open space planning on our website: