This summer’s “grand” opening
May 29, 2012
The newly named Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles edged closer to reality this week, with the selection of the Music Center as operator of the 12-acre site, now scheduled to begin opening in late July or early August.
The park, which until this week had been called Civic Center Park, promises to dramatically reshape a downtown experience that, for decades, has offered little in the way of outdoor recreation or entertainment. When completed, Grand Park will stretch four blocks—from the Music Center to City Hall—and will feature, among other things, an event lawn, gardens, walking paths and spectacularly renovated fountain (see video here).
Project Manager Dawn McDivitt of the county’s Chief Executive Office said the park’s opening will be phased in throughout the summer. The park’s northern end, which includes the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain below Grand Avenue, should be opened in roughly two months. McDivitt said the strategy of staggered openings will give the event lawn at the park’s southern end time to take root—and for the county to create excitement around the unveiling of each successive stage.
With the first opening only weeks away, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to contract with the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles—more commonly known as the Music Center—to oversee park operations for the first three years. That includes lining up a diverse slate of musical, theatrical and educational programming.
“We look forward to working with the county to create a vibrant and welcoming park in the center of downtown,” Music Center Chief Executive Officer Stephen D. Rountree said after the board’s vote. He said that no firm programming decisions have been made but that he expects year-round activities ranging from music festivals to farmer’s markets.
The supervisors also voted to change the name to Grand Park. Planners were worried that the phrase “civic center” was not sending a clear message. “We didn’t want it to sound too governmental or too institutional,” McDivitt said. “We wanted the name to reflect the park’s aspirations.”
The park is part of the larger Grand Avenue project, a massive commercial and residential development that has stalled with the faltering economy. The developer was required to provide $54 million upfront toward the park, thus ensuring its completion.