International initiative

Texas firm to design new River Walk-style park at U.S.-Mexico border

Texas firm to design new River Walk-style park at U.S.-Mexico border

Binational park
The binational river park will span more than 6 miles and connect Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.  Rendering courtesy of Overland Partners Architects

A Texas architecture and design firm is spearheading work on a proposed park that would straddle the U.S.-Mexico border and create a River Walk-style attraction.

San Antonio-based Overland Partners recently secured a nearly $190,000 contract from the City of Laredo to come up with a fleshed-out concept and architectural renderings for the binational park.

As envisioned now, the 6.2-mile park would parallel the border of the South Texas city of Laredo and its Mexican neighbor, Nuevo Laredo. The park, encompassing more than 1,000 acres, would run along the banks of Texas’ Rio Grande River and Mexico’s Rio Bravo River. A pedestrian bridge might connect both sides of the park.

Early estimates indicate the binational park might cost more than $100 million. There’s no timetable for starting or completing work on the project.

“This project will rescue the Rio Grande by enhancing its ecology and the quality of our main source of water. It will also strengthen tourism, security, economic prosperity, our binational ties with Mexico, and quality of life,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz recently told the Laredo Morning Times. “Both cities look forward to presenting this project at a binational level and as a model to the world with the objective of keeping ‘Los Dos Laredos’ as one river, one community.”

The Laredo-Nuevo Laredo metro area is home to more than 636,000 people.

Laredo officials describe the proposed park as a “unique international landmark.” Proponents hope the park will evolve into a popular attraction like San Antonio’s famed 15-mile River Walk, which was dedicated in 1941 and now draws more than 15 million visitors a year. Because of his ties to the River Walk, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has joined discussions about the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo project.

“Rivers are sources of life. They’re sources of culture, heritage, and history, and when properly embraced, they can be a place where people congregate and come together,” the Laredo Morning Times quoted Nirenberg as saying in December. “So the work that will take place on this beautiful binational park that brings this critical river back to its life and prominence is an opportunity again for us to establish an important future that the United States has with Mexico.”

Aside from the mayors of Laredo and San Antonio, prominent backers of the binational project include Ken Salazar, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico; Esteban Moctezuma, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S.; Deanna Kim, the U.S. consul general for Nuevo Laredo; and Carmen Lilia Canturosas, the mayor of Nuevo Laredo.

In February, representatives of Overland Partners and Laredo architecture firm Able City unveiled a preliminary site plan and initial renderings of the binational park. The firms are coordinating with the Binational Working Group, a public-private consortium, on the project.

“This park is a real solution to pressing challenges on both sides of the border — challenges that we as design professionals need to be solving in sustainable and inspiring ways,” Overland Partners says.