The new Riverfront Esplanade in downtown Daytona Beach will mark a significant milestone Saturday, June 4, when Phase 1 opens to the public at sunrise. This portion of the Esplanade extends from Main Street to International Speedway Boulevard (ISB) and offers many amenities within the beautiful riverfront setting.
The northernmost section of the Esplanade features a fenced dog park with separate areas for small and large breeds. (Dog owners must register and obtain an annual permit for entrance to the dog park.) The city’s Sweetheart Trail travels the length of the river with a newly-installed blue, cushioned running trail. A sweeping event lawn with knolls and large oak trees has transformed the once-flat landscape. Swings for adults and children and benches allow for riverfront views, while sculpted ponds with color-change fountains are peppered throughout the area.
The Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Plaza at the intersection of MMB and Beach Street has been created, and the bronze statue of the iconic leader will be unveiled Aug. 18. A Kress-building inspired restroom sits in what is now Manatee Plaza, which serves as a gateway to Manatee Island. A new Ranger Station has been built and this area features an Osprey Tower and the Veterans monument with palm trees and color-change fountains added on each side.
Behind the News-Journal Center, the Halifax River Overlook includes an ADA-compliant spiraling walkway and bench swings. The overlook has been raised 10 feet and visitors to this area can now enjoy enhanced views as they are elevated 15 feet above sea level. The walkway is also bordered by large coquina boulders, knitting it into the water’s edge.
The Riverfront Esplanade will be open from sunrise to sunset. Residents are asked to be patient when the park opens as there are 37 gates that have to be unlocked. Dozens of security cameras are located throughout the park, and the state-of-the-art system is monitored through a collaboration between park security personnel and local law enforcement agencies.
To date, the Brown Riverfront Esplanade Foundation has invested more than $31 million on the transformation of the park. A full schedule of activities is planned for the Esplanade including live music, festivals, family and fitness activities as well as private and business events. Phase Two, which is from ISB to Orange Avenue, is scheduled to open later this year with a grand opening celebration. This area will feature four gardens—Coastal Dune, Palm, River and Rose, as well as a large splash pad.