[Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection]
BIG news: the Downtown park everyone loves to hate (no, not that one) is on its way to getting a complete makeover. Pershing Square, first laid out in 1866, dug up for a garage in the 1950s, and made hideously ugly in the 1990s, is getting $2 million in seed money to help make it less of a concrete-laden nightmare and more of the city square Los Angeles deserves. Councilmember Jose Huizar helped convince the Department of Recreation and Parks and MacFarlane Partners, the San Francisco developer working on a nearby, two-building project, to each grant $1 million to redevelopment efforts at the five-acre Pershing Square. McFarlane will head up a new nonprofit called Pershing Square Renew that aims to “overhaul and improve Pershing Square in the short and long term.” Meanwhile, the parks department money “will go towards the park in the immediate future for infrastructure improvements and amenities.”
A rep for MacFarlane Partners says Pershing has “the potential to become a world-class public space and a vibrant ‘front yard’ for our new development,” so it sounds like they’re directly invested in the outcome here (and that they have high hopes).
Plans for a Pershing Square makeover were first announced in early 2013; unfortunately, they were tied financially to the doomed plan to build an NFL stadium in South Park. Once that scheme died, Huizar convened a group of Downtown stakeholders to begin imagining ideas and concepts for a new Pershing Square, which has been through many iterations since its creation (with diminishing returns). That stakeholder group is now segueing into Pershing Square Renew, to be headed up by Eduardo Santana, who has experience in real estate development. Looks like Santana will lead community outreach, further fundraising, and the future request for redesign proposals.