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Plan to cap the 101 freeway in Downtown LA with a park moves forward

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The four-block park would have space for an outdoor market, viewing deck, and public events

A rendering of the proposed cap park over the 101 Freeway, which would span four blocks, from Hill to Los Angeles streets.
The proposed cap park over the 101 freeway would span four blocks, from Hill to Los Angeles streets.
Courtesy of Friends of Park 101

The plan to build a park over a section of the 101 freeway through Downtown may sound far-fetched, but it’s making progress.

“We are in a strong outreach phase to bring awareness now that we have completed all three phases of the parks analysis, feasibility and viability,” Elizabeth Peterson-Gower, president of Friends of Park 101, tells Curbed.

Peterson-Gower notes that the so-called cap park—which would extend between Hill and Los Angeles streets over the freeway—is included in both the Union Station Master Plan and the Downtown LA Community Plan update, adding legitimacy to the proposal.

If built, the park would reconnect two sections of Downtown that have long been separated by the chasm of a highway.

The Friends are launching an outreach program this month and will host a fundraising gala in October. Peterson-Gower says proceeds will help pay for an environmental impact report for the cap park.

This gif shows the existing conditions over the park and how the landscape would be altered by implementing the cap park plan.
Courtesy of Friends of Park 101

A PowerPoint presentation from the Friends of Park 101, the nonprofit working to make the park happen, shows off some preliminary ideas about how the final product might look with renderings and programming by SWA Group.

The slides show each block within the cap park having a different theme. “The Hill” section would have a viewing deck and native plants; “LA Courtyards” would feature a pavilion and shaded terraced seating, plus a playground.

“The Plaza” section would have trees, flexible open space to host more sprawling public events, and some kind of water feature. “The Mercado” is geared toward hosting cultural events and outdoor markets, and would have decorative pavers on the ground.

A selection of parcels where development could fund the maintenance of the park.

Urbanize LA has reported the cost to build the park is estimated to be about $180 million. In its proposal, Friends of Park 101 suggest maintenance could be paid for by developing six adjacent city- and county-owned properties with a variety of uses, from adding storefronts to building mixed-use properties.