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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Building a park, CRA-style

 A $56 million park?

Let me say that again:


$3.5 million per acre. Yikes! That beats Cahuenga Peak at roughly $2 mil per acre as the biggest park boondoggle of the year, if not the decade.

Wait: LA Weekly says there is another $27 mil in taxpayer funds going into this project, for a cost of $5.2 million per acre. Holy crap. Given that the average price for the development of an entire park is around $5 million, the chunk of change being sunk into this monster could pay for 16 new parks in the many parts of town that are extremely park poor. Wow. That is U-G-L-Y. Now this is a project Robert Garcia should probably be suing Antonio and CRA Essel over.

Someone is going to make a blank-load of cash off of this. Is it Charles Pankow Builders LTD, a business not based in Los Angeles? Jan Perry who lives nearby? Perhaps Her Majesty Carol Schatz, who has been simply screaming to see this built? Questions questions.

From the CRA press release:

$56-million, Downtown Civic Park
Anticipates Opening in June 2012
CRA/LA Approves Construction Plans to Move Project Forward

Los Angeles — Construction of Downtown’s massive, $56 million, Civic Park, which is part of the ambitious Grand Avenue plan, could start in little more than a month and be finished in two years, according to documents reviewed last week before the Board of Commissioners of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA). The Board approved final construction documents for Civic Park, a required step before the plans are submitted to Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority, the entity overseeing work on the Grand Avenue development. Although the start of Phase 1 of the three-phase, 3.6 million square foot Grand Avenue Project at the top of Bunker Hill has been delayed, work on Civic Park is moving forward. Once the Grand Avenue Authority approves the park construction documents, work can start as early as late June this year, with 24 months for construction and a June 2012 opening. “In the heart of Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center, Civic Park will remake a neglected and often overlooked public space into a spectacular community gathering space, make Downtown more livable and create what will likely become an iconic park for Los Angeles,” said CRA/LA Board Chairman Bruce D. Ackerman.

Hill Street and Broadway divide the four block, 16-acre site. A challenging 90-foot grade change exists between Grand Avenue and Spring Street, the north and south bordering streets. The final construction documents contain all the information necessary to obtain a building permit including specifications to build site improvements, off-site public improvements, landscaping, signs, public art and construction requirements, standards and specifications.

The park will be built on the existing Los Angeles County Mall and Court of Flags, plus the surface parking lot next to City Hall, all of it County-owned land. It is bordered by buildings along both its north and south sides. The proposed design ties the site together, creating a connected, unified park. Using the grade changes as an asset, the plan envisions amphitheater steps and planted terracing for pedestrian ramps where none exist now and vertical space for outdoor seating. Programming for small to large events and festivals can take place at the site . Civic Park funding consists of $50 million from leasehold acquisition fees pre-paid for Phases I and II, interest earnings of $750,000 on those fees, state Proposition 40 park funds of $970,000 and future interest earnings on leaseholds of $4.28 million. Pankow Builders, based in Pasadena, has been selected as the Park contractor.