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Downtown Park Project

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Downtown Cary Park Master Plan

With great excitement and anticipation the Cary Town Council unanimously adopted the Downtown Cary Park Master Plan on March 14, 2019. The plan, developed by the Office of James Burnett Landscape Architecture (OJB), is the result of many months of effort and considerable public input. You can read the Downtown Cary Park Master Plan Report in its entirety here 


The Downtown Cary Park will total seven acres in size. The main features of the master plan are a “great lawn” and stormwater feature. The lawn will be fronted by a pavilion. Interspersed around the lawn and stormwater feature will be a series of unique spaces, or “rooms," linked by paved walking trails.

The master plan calls for lush native plantings and several gardens, including a ceremony garden to host celebratory events, an edible garden with curated produce, and wetland gardens. The gardens will provide opportunities for specialized and unique programming and are designed for education and hosting some of life’s most special moments.

Waterfront Lounge (Medium)Plaza2

The plan also calls for two food and beverage facilities within the Downtown Park, four interactive water features, and four restrooms. 

A key feature of the Downtown Cary Park is the amount of proposed programming, including art exhibitions, arts and crafts classes, performances and concerts, cardio and fitness classes, book clubs, storytime programs and movies. The goal is to generate activity in the Park that will energize Downtown Cary.

Active Area (Medium)Plaza1

The plan calls for design to begin in May of 2019 and be completed in 2020. Construction of the Park is expected to begin in fall 2020 with completion in 2022.


 Downtown Cary Park Presentation

If you couldn't join us for our Nov. 27 presentation, watch it in full below. 


Recap of July 2018 Community Workshop

The public enjoyed an interactive evening sharing their vision during the kick off of Phase II citizen input workshop. With the guidance and feedback taken from the workshop, we’ll make this an extraordinary destination — the soul of Cary and a reflection of you.

The Phase II survey is closed, and we thank the Cary community for providing more than 1,200 responses during the 6-week survey period.

Project Update: Fall 2019 

We have completed five months of schematic design. We are in the process of hiring a general manager position to manage the Downtown Park. Staff toured five urban parks in three different cities to gain a better understanding of the issues with managing downtown parks.

Should the 2019 Shaping Cary's Tomorrow Bonds pass, we anticipate bid award in winter of 2021, construction starting in summer of 2021, and dedication in the fall of 2023.

Project Update: Summer 2018

The Town of Cary has hired the Office of James Burnett (OJB Landscape Architecture), an award-winning landscape architecture firm with national urban parks and development experience. Their past project experience includes Klyde Warren Park, Dallas TX, Levy Park in Houston TX, and LeBauer Park, Greensboro, NC. The Town is currently working with the OJB team on the project schedule. Their consultant team includes:

Public workshops will be held as part of this project. Check back for opportunities or sign up for email alerts.

Project Background

With the approval of the 2012 Community Bonds, an initial master plan for the Downtown Park was completed. As defined by the master plan, the Downtown Park was recommended to be a signature seven-acre park defined by South Academy Street, East Park Street and Walker Street along its eastern border. The town completed the first phase of the park in March of 2017, featuring a large fountain, outdoor performance space, an outdoor games room and open lawn areas. See the Downtown Park Plan  and the Downtown Park webpage for more information. With the Town Square approximately one acre in size, this left six acres remaining for Phase 2 of the park. 

Project Timeline

  • 2001: Town Council approved the Town Center Area Plan including a proposal for a Town Center Park as the visual and cultural focal point for downtown. The park serves the higher-density development, nearby neighborhoods, and providing opportunities for special cultural and community events.
  • July 2013: Council adopted the Downtown Park Master Plan and design of Town Square begins.
  • February 2014: Council establishes that the Park will be 7 acres.  With that decision, development opportunities around Walnut/Walker and Park/Walker were identified.
  • September 2014: The town square design plans are 65% complete. Council requests an updated master plan of the downtown park to know the direction of the remainder of the downtown park as a whole that includes future phases and estimates for inclusion in future budgets. 
  • August 2015: The Cary Regional Library and Parking Deck locations are established on the park block adjacent to the town square and Cary Arts.  Council expresses interest in having the Deck ‘wrapped.’ There was no developer interest at that time for development.
  • June-October 2016: Construction on Academy Street improvements and Town Square of the Park begin.
  • September 2016: Council approved the Library and Parking deck design and its relationship the town square. Staff was tasked to create a process that would promote the downtown park as a remarkable destination for visitors and citizens alike. 
  • January-March 2017: Town Square and Academy Street improvements are complete
  • May 2018: Construction of Cary Regional Library and the Park deck begins.
  • May 2018: Council approves the selection of OJB Landscape Architecture for the updated Master Plan of the park.
  • July 2018: Town holds Community Workshop to gather input from citizens. Survey posted online.
  • March 2019:  Master Plan complete and approved by Council
  • May 2019:  Start of Schematic Design Drawings
  • October 2019:  Bond Vote


Doug McRainey
Director - Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources
Town of Cary
(919) 469-4066