Downtown residents and visitors have even more green space to look forward to in the not-so-distant future.
City officials announced Thursday they had picked the winning design for a new park planned for the empty lot near City Hall, and that design features a healthy amount of greenery.
First and Broadway park, or FAB park, is expected to open in 2019 and would be located downtown across the street from City Hall, on the same block as the Clara Shortridge Foltz courthouse. It’s part of Councilman Jose Huizar’s DTLA Forward and Recreation and Parks’ 50 Parks initiatives, both of which aim to increase green and public space.
The winning firm, Mia Lehrer & Associates, is an international architecture firm based in L.A. The company’s design, put together with a team that includes architecture firm OMA and California-based think-tank IDEO, came out on top out of four finalists that were selected.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to design this destination park, providing Los Angeles with a new place to experience nature and culture,” said Mia Lehrer, president of MLA, in a written statement.
The MLA design would add more green space to the open stretch of grass already provided by the adjacent Grand Park, but it would also include walking paths and more shade and tree cover from native oaks and sycamores. The design also includes flower-like structures with solar panels to help provide power and aims to efficiently use stormwater runoff and recycled water, according to Huizar.
Following a morning press conference, Huizar said the design will give visitors a sense they are in nature and a connection to City Hall, the L.A. Times building and the new federal courthouse that is just being completed.
“But it also provides for open space in the center to have public events where people can mingle, and around the edges you get these little pathways where people can go and sit under a tree and drink a cup of coffee or read a book, and there will also be a restaurant on the northwestern part of the park,” Huizar told KPCC.
That restaurant could be key to making the park self-sufficient in the long run.
“There are particular rules within Rec and Parks that we need to work through, but the idea is to help make this a self-sufficient park with the revenue that is derived from the restaurant that will be created on the northwestern portion of the park,” Huizar said.
The lot was owned by the state but put up for sale in 2013, according to Huizar.
The total cost of the park is expected to be $28 million. Huizar’s communications chief, Rick Coca, stressed that figure includes everything — the purchase of land, demolition of the previous site, construction, even an extra $5 million in case of cost overruns.
The construction is estimated to cost about $12 million, Coca told KPCC in an email.
The city has so far raised about $25 million, most of it from Quimby funds, which are derived from fees developers pay for nearby development in order to create more parks in the vicinity. Huizar said the city had been been saving up for years and finally had enough money to move forward on a new park.
The final design is likely to change as the city takes input from the community and downtown stakeholders, Coca said.
Other finalists includes AECOM Landscape Architecture, Brooks + Scarpa Architects and Eric Owen Moss Architects.
Huizar's office was also behind a request for proposals for the redesign of Pershing Square. The winner of that contest was recently announced.
Huizar's DTLA Forward initiative aims to enhance pedestrian activity downtown. Other projects in the works include improved traffic management plans, the conversion of dilapidated alleyways into green spaces, and more bicycle infrastructure.