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$70M renovation on Willowbrook’s Magic Johnson Park getting underway

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The work will add a community center, wetlands, and walking trails

The park’s upgrades would include new walking paths and improved lighting.
Courtesy of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

A groundbreaking ceremony Saturday will kick off the first phase of a suite of renovations planned for Willowbrook’s 120-acre Magic Johnson Park, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas announced today.

“We are building amenities at Magic Johnson Park that everyone will enjoy,” said Ridley-Thomas.

This first wave of upgrades will cost $70 million and create community resources “that do not currently exist in the area,” Ridley-Thomas noted, including a 20,000-square-foot event center intended for community gatherings and weddings.

An outdoor wedding pavilion, a splash pad, kids’s play areas, improved lighting, walking paths, and parking lots will also be added as part of the first round of updates.

Also part of this round of alterations is a project that would create “a wetland experience for park goers.” The plan is to divert and clean water from the nearby Compton Creek, then use that water to fill the park’s lower lake and irrigate 30 acres of the recreation space.

The renovations slated to begin Saturday are part of a master plan for the park that was adopted in 2015. Designed by landscape architecture firm AHBE, the master plan calls for additional phased upgrades to the park over the next two decades. This first wave of work is expected to be complete in the fall of 2020.

Looking forward, a possible addition to the park in the future could include a location of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. LACMA announced last year it was interested in constructing a museum building in the park. LACMA is also working to bring a satellite location to the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park.

The prospects for a museum location in the park look strong: LACMA director Michael Govan is one of the scheduled speakers for Saturday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

A picnic area planned for the park.
The park’s future splash pad.
A rendering of the park’s new “entry plaza.”
Courtesy of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas