ABOVE: Draw-up of the master plan for Macgregor Park
Houston Parks Board will lead the project thanks to community feedback and a catalyst gift from Kinder Foundation
Following a comprehensive and community-based master plan process, the Houston City Council recently approved long-planned renovations to MacGregor Park, a 65-acre park along Brays Bayou in southeast Houston.
The total cost of the project is $54 million, with a $27 million catalyst gift from the Kinder Foundation. Houston Parks Board will raise an additional $12.5 million; the City of Houston contributed $5 million plus another $1.5 million from the City of Houston’s Capital Improvement Plan; Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) 7 will contribute $4 million designated for parking and access improvements; and a $4 million Community Project Funding Grant sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Houston Parks Board and the project partners will proceed with design in 2024 and construction is estimated to begin in 2025.
“MacGregor Park has a rich history in Houston,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I’m proud of the project team for championing the voices of our community throughout this process. Reinvigorating the park will positively impact many Houstonians for generations to come. Thank you to the Kinder Foundation for their catalyst gift, and to Houston Parks Board for finishing the master plan and leading the fundraising.”
For nearly a century, MacGregor Park has served as a gathering and recreational space for many Houstonians. This highly active park is home to a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial statue by sculptor Ken Washington as well as the Homer Ford Tennis Center where Olympic and professional athletes have trained. Additionally, the park’s basketball pavilion was much loved by Phi Slama Jama, the University of Houston’s basketball team that rose to fame from 1982–1984. Today, this much-loved regional park suffers from high levels of use combined with aging infrastructure.
“We remain committed to investing in projects that increase the quality of life for our community,” said Nancy Kinder, President and CEO, Kinder Foundation. “MacGregor Park is one of Houston’s most beloved parks, and we’re thrilled to contribute to a project that further develops and preserves this important greenspace in southeast Houston.”
The MacGregor Park renovation is aligned with Houston Parks Board’s Strategic Plan to improve regional parks as destinations along the Bayou Greenways system.
“Revitalizing MacGregor Park plays an important role as we strive to transform Houston into an interconnected network of parks, trails and greenways for a healthier Houston, and more equitably distributed parks in our great City” said Barron Wallace, Chairman, Houston Parks Board. “The planned enhancements will honor the park’s history and cultural significance, increase equitable access to greenspaces and contribute to a greater quality of life for the surrounding community. We greatly appreciate the substantial catalyst gift from the Kinder Foundation which made the project possible.”
“Through over 1,200 community interactions — meetings, work sessions, events, a survey and thousands of emails — the project team heard what Houstonians want and need from MacGregor Park,” Beth White, President and CEO, Houston Parks Board added. “Thanks to this input, the collaboration among many individuals and organizations, and the generosity of our donors, we will be able to achieve the community’s vision for this important regional park, one of the treasured parks along Bayou Greenways.”
The original MacGregor Park master plan was created in 2016 by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) and City of Houston. Houston Parks Board then spearheaded a master plan update in 2021, underwritten by a $350,000 gift from the Kinder Foundation. The planning process included lead consultant M2L Associates and was guided by a committee comprised by the City of Houston, the Kinder Foundation, HPARD, Friends of MacGregor Park, MacGregor Park Conservancy, University of Houston, and Houston Southeast Management District. Community input was also a crucial component of this process.
“The park users and neighbors are deeply committed to MacGregor Park,” stated Dr. Teddy McDavid, Board Chair, Friends of MacGregor Park. “We love our park and consider it our place of natural beauty, culture, history, recreation, and education. We are very grateful to see this plan become a reality.”
The master plan calls for several updates including the renovation of The Homer Ford Tennis Center, which will become a state-of-the-art facility with tournament-hosting capabilities. The swimming pool and historic community center will be renovated. The perimeter trail around the park will be extended by 1.25 miles, linking to the existing Bayou Greenways trail along Brays Bayou and enhancing connectivity to a network of community bike lanes. A natural amphitheater will be created near the bayou for programming and communal gatherings. An all-abilities, ADA-accessible playground will be added, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza will be refurbished.
“MacGregor Park has always been a symbol of community spirit and resilience in Houston,” Houston City Councilmember Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz shared. “The planned improvements are not just about aesthetics and amenities; they represent a deeper investment in the health, wellbeing, and joy of our community members. I am wholeheartedly looking forward to seeing the park flourish as a beacon of nature, culture, and community engagement.”
The design and construction will be overseen by a standards committee comprised of representatives from the City of Houston, the Kinder Foundation, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Houston Parks Board.
“MacGregor Park is one of Houston’s treasures, and we are proud to have initiated the master planning process,” said Kenneth Allen, Director, Houston Parks and Recreation Department. “The improvements planned for this park will continue its evolution as a source of pride for neighborhood residents. It will also become a magnet for new visitors to the park and the Third Ward community.”
For additional details regarding MacGregor Park and to stay informed of the latest updates, visit https://houstonparksboard.org/macgregor-park/.