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EXCLUSIVE: Austin businessmen give $5 million to Waller Creek project


Highlights

The money will help fund a variety of improvements at the 35-acre Waller Creek Park.

Work is already underway on several aspects of the park project.

Two Austin businessmen have teamed up to donate $5 million to the Waller Creek revitalization project.

World Class Holdings founder and CEO Nate Paul and Vista Equity Partners co-founder and President Brian Sheth are now challenging others to step forward and do the same.

The money, along with other contributions to the Waller Creek Conservancy, will help fund improvements at the 35-acre Waller Creek Park, which stretches 1.5 miles through downtown Austin, from Lady Bird Lake to East 15th Street.

It’s not much to look at now, but Waller Creek Conservancy CEO Peter Mullan and his team are working to change that – and contributions like the one from Paul and Sheth will help the project come closer to reality.

“We are incredibly grateful to Brian and Nate for their unwavering support of the Conservancy’s mission and what this project means for our city,” Mullan said in a written statement. “Their generosity represents a remarkable step forward in the implementation of our vision for Waller Creek.”

Work is underway on several aspects of the project, including a $15 million amphitheater at Waterloo Park that’s being funded by a contribution from the Moody Foundation.

Gardens, wetlands and a 1.5-mile trail are also part of Waterloo Park’s makeover.

“We do great things in Austin when we work together, and I hope that our gifts will inspire many others to support the Waller Creek project,” Sheth said. “This project is truly transformative and brings with it the benefits of ecological restoration and sustainable urban development. But, just as important, is this project’s ability to serve the entire city and allow people from all walks of life to enjoy actively programmed spaces in the heart of downtown, together.”

Once complete, Waller Creek Conservancy, the city of Austin and their partners envision a chain of smaller parks within the larger Waller Creek Park. After work at Waterloo Park wraps up next year, Palm Park – near the Austin Convention Center – is expected to be targeted next.

“Supporting Waller Creek Conservancy’s mission is important for all Austinites,” Paul said. “As our city grows, we have to be deliberate about creating spaces that connect all communities to accessible, natural places that promote culture and recreation. Brian and I both feel that critical initiatives like this will maintain the unique and special fabric of Austin for the long term.”

Paul and Sheth put out the call to other Austinites to match their $5 million contribution at a recent reception.

“It is my personal and strongly held belief that meaningful change can only be achieved when we choose to give back to our community through civic engagement,” said Tom Meredith, chair of the Waller Creek Conservancy’s board of directors. “A project of this magnitude demands a collaborative approach. We have a fantastic partner in the city and have gained the support of a tremendous number of individuals throughout Austin.”

When completed, Waller Creek Park will bring a host of new amenities to an area of town that’s seeing unprecedented development, including the addition of the University of Texas medical school and the redevelopment of the former University Medical Center-Brackenridge site.



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