By Brooke Rogers

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – South Dallas will soon be home to the city’s newest greenspace known as Southern Gateway Park. Spanning I-35E adjacent to the Dallas Zoo, it’s being hailed as a “park with a purpose” – a playground, pavilion, garden, and more in the heart of Oak Cliff – but with deeper intentions than just recreation.

“We call it a gateway because, of course, it’s physically a gateway,” said April Allen, president and COO of Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation. “It’s on I-35, so it will be a gateway to our city of Dallas, but it’s also a gateway to the opportunities.”

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Those opportunities were lost in the 1950s, when I-35 was built through the middle of Oak Cliff, tearing apart a vibrant community.

“Infrastructure was used to divide the community, and we believe that we can use an infrastructure to mend it back together,” Allen said.

Southern Gateway Park

The Texas Department of Transportation began construction on the underlying deck structure last summer. It’s all part of the first phase of the park, which should be open to the public by the end of 2023.

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When it’s complete, Southern Gateway Park will be just over five acres. It will be a bridge park, in keeping with the topography surrounding it.

“It’s not just a flat space. It really has a lot of different elevations, which reflects the truth of Oak Cliff,” said Allen.

And it was designed with input from community members, such as Tino Jalomo.

“It’s going to be a powerful symbol of the community coming together to heal, to really grow and really ensure that the future has a good understanding of what we’ve been through as a city,” Jalomo said.

The park will be a public-private partnership, costing around $170 million in total. The hope is that the infusion of dollars will spur economic opportunities – and create a bridge both literally and figuratively.

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“There are a host of ways that we’re hopeful that the park can improve all of those quality-of-life indicators, as well as just be an example of how we can reknit the community back together,” said Allen.