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Memorial Park Conservancy & Cadence Bank Join Forces to Revitalize Houston’s Beloved Park

Rendering of Houston's Memorial Park

Memorial Park Conservancy & Cadence Bank Join Forces to Revitalize Houston’s Beloved Park

Photos and renderings provided by Memorial Park Conservancy.


At Cadence Bank, it’s important that we support our communities and local businesses. In January, Houston’s Memorial Park Conservancy chose Cadence as the financial institution charged with overseeing deposits, treasury management and brokerage services, ensuring that the Conservancy will have the funds they need to meet the financial challenges and gaps that often plague large-scale redevelopment projects.


About Memorial Park


At 1,500 acres, Memorial Park is the largest urban park in Houston, and it’s one of the largest centrally located urban wilderness spaces within a major U.S. city. In 2012, city officials asked the Conservancy to develop a long-range plan for overcoming ecological challenges and addressing a lack of accessibility and use. More than 3,000 Houstonians and 75 experts contributed to the plan. Together, the Conservancy and its partners at the Uptown Development Authority (UDA) and Houston Parks & Recreation delivered a long-range Master Plan for Memorial Park which was approved unanimously by Houston City Council in 2015.


Memorial Park Conservancy & Cadence Bank Join Forces to Revitalize Houston’s Beloved Park

Memorial Park was one of a handful of emergency military training camps during World War I, and it’s one of the only remaining such sites that hasn’t been redeveloped and paved over. The Park’s Camp Logan has been named as a protected archaeological site due to this history, and Memorial Park has its name to honor the soldiers who fought and died in WWI who trained at this camp.


Memorial Park also has a celebrated jogging loop; in fact, in 2017, MapMyRun readers voted Memorial Park Loop, named the Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail, as the most popular running route in the country. More than four million visitors flock to the Park every year.


The Conservancy and its partners, now including the Kinder Foundation, will oversee more than $200 million worth of capital improvements over the next 10 years, with $70 million committed by the Kinder Foundation (the largest single parks grant in Houston history) and $55 million committed by the Conservancy.  There’s also UDA’s $113 million capital improvement and operations commitment through 2041. With this large of a budget and such a long-term project, the Conservancy needed a bank that would work with them as they needed, when they were needed, to ensure there were no issues.


Memorial Park Conservancy & Cadence Bank


Cadence and Memorial Park Conservancy were introduced through one of the Conservancy’s board members, who recommended Cadence because it’s locally based with strong local leadership, something they believed would increase the likeliness of a successful partnership. Shellye Arnold, President and CEO of the Conservancy, recalls that first meeting with Billy Braddock and Andrew Arizpe, the lenders in charge of the the Conservancy account. She explained the organization’s plans and goals and discussed how Cadence might be able to help.


The Conservancy was in talks with a number of banks, but what stood out most to Arnold was Cadence’s genuine interest in Memorial Park and the Conservancy throughout the process. “Cadence exhibited the most interest in us and developed the greatest depth and understanding of what we are doing. They were also the most consistently responsive. Those were early signals of how well a relationship would work,” recalls Arnold. “Every time we ask for something or engage them, they continue to be as responsive as they were when they competed for the business."


Arnold and the Conservancy were looking for a bank that was sensitive to client needs and also had commitment from senior management. During the initial meetings, Paul Murphy, Chairman and CEO of Cadence Bancorporation, told stories of how they’ve opened the bank up on a Friday night to help a client out when they were in a bind, and that level of commitment—including giving Arnold his personal cell number—showed that Cadence was truly committed to supporting the Conservancy’s needs.


A long-lasting relationship

Memorial Park Conservancy & Cadence Bank Join Forces to Revitalize Houston’s Beloved Park


$200 million in capital improvements in Memorial Park will be managed and completed over the next decade, and Cadence intends to work with them every step of the way to support these efforts and revitalize Houston’s largest urban park.


“We could see from the beginning that the relationship was going to flourish and be natural, and I think that helped the whole process,” comments Arizpe, Vice President and Relationship Manager. “Our Chairman still asks, and gets updates, about this relationship. It's a prestigious client, and it’s very important to everyone at the bank.”


The Conservancy, along with its partners, is spearheading one of the largest urban park projects in the country. Thanks to the generous support of donors, Houston’s innovative civic leaders, and the capabilities and commitment of Cadence to Memorial Park and this growing organization, Arnold and her team will be able to continue to enhance and distinguish this historic wilderness and active recreation area for years to come, work that will positively impact Houstonians for generations.


Cadence Bank is in the relationship business


We’re proud to support the communities where we live and work. Ready to launch a relationship with Cadence Bank? Get in touch with us. We’ll connect you with a banker who can help meet the financial needs of your business.

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