Arts / Performing Arts

Houston Arts Plaza Gets a $29 Million Revamp as it’s Renamed Lynn Wyatt Square

From Jordy's Toilet to a Stunning Space — This is Nothing Like the Jones Plaza You Know

BY // 10.07.19

You won’t be able to refer to downtown’s Jones Plaza as “Jordy’s toilet” for much longer. The eyesore connecting the city’s major performing arts groups is about to undergo a monumental, $29 million transformation and following the ribbon cutting in 2021, the newly beautiful space will be crowned the “Lynn Wyatt Square for the Performing  Arts.”

The announcement of the square naming was made Monday morning in a festive ceremony held in the plaza that was built atop a parking garage at the same time that Jones Hall was built. Mayor Sylvester Turner made the reveal before leaders of the seven sisters of the Theater District — Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, Alley Theatre, Theater Under the Stars, Society for the Performing Arts and Da Camera.

“I’m just one big goose bump now,” Wyatt told PaperCity over coffee at The Lancaster following the ceremony. “I never ever think of myself as special. My two favorite words in the English language are thankful and grateful.”

Wyatt’s family had earlier made a contribution for the re-imagining of the square, the task turned over to the award-winning architect firm of Rios Clementi Hale Studios. When considering an added moniker for the Jones Plaza stage area, named after the late Houston powerhouse Jesse H. Jones, Mayor Turner suggested Wyatt.

“I’m a believer in the adage that a thriving arts culture is the cornerstone of a prosperous city. And we are indeed,” Turner said. “The transformation of this public space will not only serve as a cornerstone for downtown, but a dynamic epicenter of Houston’s cultural footprint.

“In recognition of her legacy of philanthropy, it is only fitting that this space be named after Houston’s greatest benefactor of the arts, Lynn Wyatt.”

When approached with the idea, Wyatt was thrilled and she added to the gift. “I’m just not going to accept this and not do something,” she told PaperCity. In the end, Wyatt committed a total $10 million for the project with groundbreaking scheduled for August 2020. Hers is the core gift of the capital campaign for the highly anticipated transformation.

With $10 million committed by the Downtown Redevelopment Authority and $5 million from Houston First Corporation, Wyatt’s contribution serves as a catalyst gift for the project.

The square will include a performance lawn with flexible infrastructure for concerts and other free programs, a cascading water feature, trees and gardens for aesthetics and shade, a street theater and a restaurant.

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