Park makeover nearly done

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Construction is near completion on Repentance Park in downtown Baton Rouge.
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Construction is near completion on Repentance Park in downtown Baton Rouge.

Repentance Park to offer child-friendly fountain, new stage

Construction in Repentance Park is nearing completion, and passersby may not recognize the downtown Baton Rouge green space after its makeover.

The park, which is adjacent to Galvez Plaza and bordered by City Hall and the Louisiana Arts and Sciences Museum, has been under construction since early February. It was initially expected to be completed in September, but weather issues and some unexpected underground obstructions led to delays.

Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, said construction will wrap up in about two weeks.

“I do think we’re emerging as one of the great urban green spaces in the country,” Rhorer said of the many ongoing downtown construction projects.

The park’s makeover includes the complete removal of the massive circular water fountain that used to abut River Road.

On the opposite side of the park, closest to City Hall, is a new, modern, kid-friendly fountain with 750 jets.

The park has also been reshaped to include a hill rolling downward from the Old State Capitol.

“It’s undulating in shape,” Rhorer said. “The kids are going to love running up and down the hill.”

Rhorer said the space will provide a great view of sunsets over the river, and tie together the “civic and cultural attractions throughout the central green.”

Repentance Park used to be home to the annual Blues Festival until the Galvez Plaza stage was built.

Rhorer said the park will still be able to provide additional stage space for downtown festivals and performances.

The $3.5 million project is paid for with state sales tax rebate that can only be used for downtown riverfront projects.

Repentance Park is the latest in the “overall greening” of downtown Baton Rouge, which is an effort to make the area more attractive for people to enjoy festivals, outdoor concerts or just taking a break outside, Rhorer said.

The $7.2 million Town Square renovation was completed last December and added two stages, a fountain and a 42-foot-high “media beacon” with flat screen panels to display photos, presentations and, sometimes, movies.