About 100 or more people — from former Mayor A C Wharton to dozens of bicyclists — gathered Thursday morning at Shelby Farm's new First Tennessee Visitor Center to celebrate the Conservancy's completion of their two-year Heart of the Park project.
"We've never done anything quite this big," said Jen Andrews, the Conservancy's executive director, while introducing a series of speakers who assisted with the project. "This park has attracted some of the best talent in our city and in the country and our community is going to benefit incredibly from it."
The $52 million renovation boasts an outdoor stage, Kimbal Musk's restaurant The Kitchen, a charging station for electric vehicles, and an added 55 acres of meadow and 3,000 trees to Shelby Farms. To commemorate the Hyde Family Foundation's financial support, Patriot Lake will be renamed Hyde Lake, Andrews said.
Shelby Farms Conservancy will host 30 Days of Celebration: More than 70 events during September to involve visitors with the new amenities that span the park's 4,500 acres.
"I'm excited to see people engaging with this space," said Shelby Farms Communications Director Rebecca Dailey. "This project was signed by the community for the community."
Landscape Architect James Corner, the lead designer behind New York's High Line, said the revamped Shelby Farms won't just serve people, but also act as a nature setting for vegetation, wildlife, and biodiversity.
"Every city has a great park," Corner said. "Shelby Farms Park is more than 10 times the size of London's Hyde Park, more than five times the size of New York's Central Park, and more than four times the size of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. With these renovations to the lake, landscape, and the buildings, it's probably one of the most distinctive parks internationally."