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See inside the plans for Downtown Cary Park

IMPORTANT NOTE: Raleigh Convergence is no longer publishing, as of April 1, 2022. Read more.
Downtown Cary Park rendering

Curious about all the construction in Downtown Cary? It’s Downtown Cary Park’s groundbreaking week, and we have more details on the Downtown Cary Park plans.

The big picture questions, answered:

When will the Downtown Cary Park open? Summer 2023 is the target date for all the features mentioned below to be complete, considered Phase 2.

Doesn’t Downtown Cary already have a Downtown Park? Yes, but that was just Phase 1. Phase 1 included the Downtown Cary fountain, which went offline in mid-May and currently is fenced off. Phase 2 will make Downtown Cary Park a total of seven acres.

What will the Downtown Cary Park include? When the park is complete, it will include new play spaces for kids, a “bark bar” for dogs and their humans, new pond features, performance and event spaces. 

Here’s an overview of the project, and read on for more events going on this week:

Towne Square

Downtown Cary Fountain

The fountain area, completed in 2017, is considered the first phase of the park. The fountain will remain while the stage area will be converted into a multipurpose lawn.

Academy Plaza

A bird’s eye view of Academy Plaza, looking out from inside the park.

Heading north on Academy Street, toward Cotton House, what the town fact sheet calls a “new urban meeting plaza” will be developed, including a market, event space, an interactive fountain and overlooks. 

It also serves as an entry to walkways through the rest of the park, while the infrastructure of the park is hidden below. 

Gathering House

Gathering House and Garden.

Inside the park, not far from The Mayton hotel, is the Gathering House and Garden. Transparent walls of the Gathering House give views into green space and the “origin point of the recirculating pond feature.”

The Nest

The play area for kids

Behind the Towne Square and connected by a bridge to the Cary Regional Library and attached parking deck, a play space will include large cardinals (the NC state bird), climbing structures, slides and a “nature inspired splash pad.” 

The Bark Bar

The Bark Bar

Just what it sounds like — an off-leash dog area with “play mounds and water features” next to an open-air pavilion that will serve drinks to park goers. The shade of the Bark Bar’s roof will make outdoor seating more comfortable on hot or sunny days.

Park Street Courts

Active areas with nearby food trucks and the Bark Bar, at right.

In the past, bocce ball and table tennis drew people to Downtown Park near the fountain. With the creation of Park Street Courts, at Park Street and Walker Street, there will be a new game and active space.

Park Street could also host pop-up markets with food trucks and the adjacent Bark Bar nearby. 

The Pavilion

At the heart of the park is a large lawn and performance pavilion with a stage for larger events. 

Skywalk and pond features

Water features, center, and skywalk, at left.

Elevated walkways will reach over the new water features and gardens. The new pond features “also act as a resiliency feature for stormwater that has the ability to capture and hold a 500 year storm and prevents excess water from leaving the site.”

How to see the vision for the park this week

Wednesday (June 23): From 5-7 p.m., create chalk art birds along Academy Street. Meet at the Downtown Park Fountain site. 

Thursday (June 24): This Paws in the Park event is for furry friends. Bring your dog for a paw print casting that you can take home. 6-8 p.m. at the old library site on Academy Street (now an open field).

Friday (June 25): Live music at lunchtime with Peter Lamb and Mark Wells of Peter Lamb & the Wolves, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the old library site.

Friday and Saturday night (June 25-26): View luminaries at night outlining future buildings and water features. See suggested viewing locations on the park page.

Saturday (June 26): The groundbreaking ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the fountain. Following the groundbreaking, there will be a walking tour of Downtown Cary for its 150th anniversary. A presentation at 2 p.m. at the Cary Arts Center from the park designers will outline design, environmental issues and horticulture (submit questions to joy.ennis@townofcary.org in advance).

What else do you want to know about the park? Send an email to editor@raleighconvergence.com.

Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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