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The Grand Avenue Project (along with LA Live) is a project currently under development designed to revive downtown Los Angeles. The $3 billion project, which is to be built on Grand Avenue next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is designed to give Los Angeles a thriving city center. It has been compared to, and is intended to be, the L.A. version of the Champs-Élysées of Paris and the Central Park of New York City. The location is deemed a logical place to build such a project since about 5.8 million people live within 15 miles of the Grand Avenue Project according to the Grand Avenue Committee. The project will create over 5,300 long-term jobs and will generate over $95 million annually in taxes for all levels of government, with the (Los Angeles) county receiving $2.3 million and the city receiving $5.8 million per year. On February 14, 2007 both the Los Angeles City Council and the Board of Supervisors approved the project, and officials originally hoped to break ground in December 2007. However, the construction has now been postponed until as late as February 2009.[1]. If construction is delayed beyond that point the developer will be forced to pay $250,000 per month.

Contents

Design

The project's key public component is a 16 acre (64,000 m²) park stretching between the development's two boundaries: City Hall and the Department of Water and Power building. The park was designed to be pedestrian friendly and will connect Bunker Hill to the Civic Center. Plans call for tree-shaded sidewalks, plenty of street lights, benches, and kiosks, to encourage the walking and exploration of the area. The new Grand Avenue will also be equipped with upscale shopping stores and high-rise condos, in addition to a shopping center, bookstore, multiplex movie theater and a gourmet supermarket.

The project will also include a park that is to be built between city hall and the DWP building. This area is already a public space with plazas, a Court of Flags, and a park-like area with a large fountain where many county workers take their lunch under trees. However the design is disjointed and cut off by the entrances to several parking garages.

In June 2007, the design of Phase 1 was approved by the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority, the Community Redevelopment Agency, and the County Board of Supervisors. This will allow the project to move forward into the Design Development Phase, which was expected to be completed in the Fall of 2007. In a deal reached in December but disclosed on March 12, 2008, the Dubai government-owned investment fund "Istithmar World Capital PJSC", signed on as an equity partner in the Related Co. project—which is now dubbed The Grand—after the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) pension fund withdrew from the project. The $100 million commitment from Istithmar represents a 40% stake in the Frank Gehry-designed project. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which will manage the development's luxury hotel, has committed $42 million. Both investments await Los Angeles city and county approval, which are expected this month and are needed to help Related secure financing for construction, due to start this year.[2] 40-50-story iconic tower at the corner of Second and Grand. .[3]

Reception

While generally greeted with positive response, there have also been critical concerns expressed by local citizens, community leaders, local business owners, academics and advocates for the homeless. Grand Intervention, a project of the Norman Lear Center at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, has attempted to maximize public input into the design of the park. This project, begun with a call for ideas in a July 2005 Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times, resulted in more than 300 design submissions from across the city and around the world. Furthermore, when the park developer chose its design team, Grand Intervention invited them to view the best of the proposals. Since effective urban planning requires direct civic engagement by diverse and disparate communities, the Lear Center felt that new technology could extend the outreach process beyond the conventional Vermont town meeting model. In an effort to extend its public outreach on L.A.'s new civic park, the Grand Avenue Committee and the developer, The Related Companies, endorsed Grand Intervention's online civic engagement efforts. The Lear Center has offered live and archived Webcasts of community park workshops, online transcriptions of the workshops and online digital resources of all materials distributed or displayed at the workshops.

Some business owners fear their businesses won't be able to compete with such a large, government-backed project and that many small downtown businesses will shut down. Backers assert that the project will attract more people to the downtown area and therefore boost local business.

References

"In Los Angeles, a Gehry-Designed Awakening" in The New York Times. April 18, 2007. (and correction on April 20, 2007)

External links

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