(CNS) – A long-awaited transformation of four blocks of downtown’s Civic Center into a 12-acre park is set to partially open July 26. Grand Park, stretching from the John Ferraro Department of Water and Power Building to City Hall, includes a performance lawn, a restoration of the historic Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, a cafe, walking paths, gardens and restrooms.
Los Angeles County and The Music Center, which will operate the park, will hold opening ceremonies and a dedication event for half of the park between First and Temple streets from Grand Avenue to Hill Street. The two remaining blocks between Hill and Spring streets are not finished and will be opened this fall, a spokeswoman said.
An inaugural opening weekend for the public will take place July 28 and 29 and include a large dance event in conjunction with National Dance Day and music performances.
The $56 million park, which began construction in 2010 and will be downtown’s largest open space, is part of the larger Grand Avenue Project, a $3 billion Frank Gehry-designed tower with a boutique hotel, condos, shopping and a movie theater. The project proposed in the early 2000s to transform Bunker Hill into a cultural hub has been delayed because of a lack of financing.
“After many years of hard work, collaboration and perseverance, I am excited to introduce Grand Park to my fellow Angelenos,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and chair of the Grand Avenue joint powers authority Gloria Molina. “This festive series of events marks the beginning of a new chapter for downtown, which now has a wonderful place where all in the county can gather, celebrate, share experiences with each other and enjoy entertainment in a beautiful setting.”
City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who served as vice-chair of the joint powers authority, said the park will transform downtown and will encourage more people to get out of their apartments and condos. “It’s going to be a tremendous gathering space for all sorts of things – - farmers’ markets, outdoor performances and just coming to get to know your neighbors,” she said.
Perry said she does not think the park’s opening will accelerate the rest of the Grand Avenue Project. “(The developers) still need to deal with their issues on financing,” Perry said. “Supervisor Molina had the foresight to ask the developers to put the money up front for the park. She was right. That’s why we have a park now.”