Shelby Farms meets its $70 million capital campaign, plans The Heart of the Park

The $70 million total includes projects already delivered and benefitting the community like Shelby Farms Greenline, Woodland Discovery Playground, Wolf River Pedestrian Bridge, gateway signage and major tree plantings.  In addition, the $52 million Heart of the Park project is underway, with a plan to open all new facilities and amenities by fall of 2016.

The Heart of the Park (shown in the visual animation here) is a reimagining of Patriot Lake.  This area of Shelby Farms will become a vibrant and diverse community hub, an environmental teaching tool, an important part of the business plan to sustain the Park, a gathering place for health and recreation, relaxation and big water adventure. It will be an exemplar for innovative urban landscape design, environmentally responsive architecture, and world class programming for health, happiness and inclusion for the Mid-South.   
A new Visitor Center will include education space, a cafe, a gift shop and a big front porch where visitors can watch sailboats and kayaks on the lake.  A new boat rental kiosk will allow visitors to rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boats.  A signature restaurant and event center on the east end of the Heart of the Park will offer a dramatic view of the expanded lake. A new Wetland Walk and water playground will provide new opportunities for education and fun for children. New meadows and grasslands, more than 4 miles of new trails and thousands of new trees are restoring biodiversity and ecological health to the Heart of the Park. 

The campaign was launched in 2008 with a $20 million grant from Hyde Family Foundations, with a goal to raise the funds needed to implement Phase One of SFPC’s  Master Plan for the Park.  Major contributions have been provided by FedEx, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, Plough Foundation, AutoZone, First Tennessee Foundation, International Paper Foundation, McDonnell Family Foundation, Bill and Amy Rhodes, Fred and Diane Smith, Peter and Mary Lee Formanek and others (full donor list here).

“We are proud to announce that we’ve crossed the finish line on our capital campaign, and we’re grateful to all the corporate, foundation, private and public partners who stepped up to help unlock the incredible potential of Shelby Farms Park,” said Barbara Hyde, SFPC board member and President of Hyde Family Foundations. 

 In addition to an early  $5 million contribution, FedEx issued an additional $1 million challenge grant to help close the campaign.  

“Shelby Farms Park is one of America’s premier urban parks and an integral part of this community,” said Mitch Jackson, SFPC board member and Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, FedEx Corporation. “Many FedEx team members are patrons of Shelby Farms Park, and we are proud to support efforts that will enhance the park and deliver a brighter future.”

Of the $70 million goal, more than $60 million was raised privately.  State of Tennessee contributed $5 million, Shelby County contributed $3 million from the CIP budget and the City of Memphis contributed $150,000 to create filtration wetlands that will help reduce stormwater pollution.  

“Shelby Farms Park is a gem,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Jr. “The  community investments made at this public park will reap benefits for Shelby County.” 

Today, the Park features miles of paved and unpaved trails, hundreds of acres of woodlands, dozens of lakes and ponds, the new Woodland Discovery Playground, a buffalo herd, meadows, grasslands, pavilions, a Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course and more. 
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