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June Groundbreaking for Downtown's New Civic Park

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The neighborhood-changing park that will connect the Music Center to City Hall is swiftly advancing. The 16-acre green space is part of the stalled Grand Avenue development, but while that cluster of towers waits for funding, the money for the park is already in the bank, thanks to contributions from Grand Avenue developer Related, the state, and the Community Redevelopment Agency. People behind the $56 million park are working toward a June groundbreaking, according to Gerry Hertzberg, policy director for LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina and a member of the Grand Avenue Committee. "It's moving full-speed ahead," he says. "There's work being done everyday."

Hertzberg says the work now involves drafting documents for construction bids, finalizing contracts, and some digging and testing. Construction will take about two years, but "that doesn't mean segments won't be done before others." There was talk of an "event lawn" opening along Spring Street in 2011. Hertzberg added that there's been changes to the layout of the fountain, the set-up of flags, and steps near the flags. Maybe this will be enough to change Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne's take on the park. In March he said the design of landscape architect Mark Rios, of the LA firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios, lacked "ambition."

The park bumps up against streets like Spring and Broadway, and Hertzberg said there was talk of widening the crosswalks there, so park grazers could more easily traverse the park's entire length. But the Department of Transportation nixed that idea. Those streets, though, shouldn't be closed for construction, but expect "a lot of semis coming and going." Hertzberg says the finished product will be worth the hassles and will serve as a meeting ground for the city; especially for Downtown parties, rallies, and protests. "The designers created a public space that will create a meeting ground for a vast array of activities," he says.

· Latest Civic Park Designs, Everyone Weighs In [Curbed LA]

Grand Park

S. Grand Ave. & W. First St., Los Angeles, CA