The highly active MacGregor Park is home to a Dr. 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 used by Phi Slama Jama, the University of Houston’s basketball team that rose to fame from 1982–1984. Today, this beloved regional park is subject to high levels of use and an aging infrastructure.
In 2016, a MacGregor Park master plan was created 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 of 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 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.
In December 2023, the Houston City Council approved the updated master plan, ensuring further development and preservation of this park that will continue to improve the quality of life for generations to come. The project is made possible due to a $27 million catalyst gift from the Kinder Foundation, which is half of the total project’s cost of $54 million.
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.