South Park Could Get a New Park
Los Angeles Downtown News
By Nicholas Slayton
October 23, 2017

DTLA – The Downtown residential boom is reshaping South Park, as former parking lots and empty warehouses give way to residential buildings with thousands of apartments and condominiums.

While most of the amenities in these structures serve residents, one component of a proposed mega-project would benefit the entire community. Mack Urban, which is working on a $1.2 billion plan to create five residential buildings along Grand Avenue and Olive Street, recently began hosting meetings for input on a privately owned park that would be open to the public.

“South Grand Park” is being designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, which has worked on projects including Downtown’s Grand Park. The quarter-acre project was presented to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The second of three public meetings on the park takes place Monday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. at the restaurant First Draft.

Mack Urban’s first part of the residential project, the 362-unit Wren apartments, opened in June at 1230 S. Olive St. The park would technically be part of the second phase, a 38-story, 536-apartment building currently under construction at 1120 S. Grand Ave. The high-rise is scheduled to open in 2019.

Initial components of the park, which would sit on the north side of the structure at the same address, include trees, a paseo, and possibly a water feature. The park comes out of a mix of development requirements and a desire to add a gathering spot to the community, said Andrew Dutton, associate development manager with Mack Urban.

“We needed to provide the paseo as part of our open space requirements for the property,” Dutton told the DLANC committee. “Having said that, one of the big issues in Downtown, especially South Park, is we don’t have enough parks. So having something that activated the ground floor and could be an anchor point for restaurants and retail in the area was something we wanted to push for.”

Beware of Dogs

Rios Clementi Hale initially had three park designs, focused on a community theater, a garden and a flexible, hardscape-heavy layout, respectively. The current design features elements from all three proposals, according to Peter Emerson, a senior associate landscape architect with the firm. He added that the paseo would link Grand Avenue to the Margo Street alley, and that there would be a public art component and trees. Renderings show hedges near the Grand Avenue entrance that serve as a kind of division from the street. The renderings also include a waterfall with a rising concrete path behind it.

“We’re trying to create something that’s different from the urban environment,” Emerson said. “We’ve created this waterfall at the entrance to kind of drown out the sound of the city.”

Plans for the tower include a ground-floor restaurant next to the park, with the eatery’s patio mingling with the public space. Additionally, Mack Urban intends to activate narrow Margo Street between Grand Avenue and Olive Street with lights and some arts and public programs.

Mack Urban held the first of its South Grand Park outreach meetings on Oct. 2. Further revisions of the design are expected before it is brought to the full DLANC board in November.

At the Planning and Land Use Committee meeting, DLANC members urged the developer to have a clear security plan, and to ensure that the park has sufficient green space.

Another concern was dogs. The group advised the developers to keep dogs away from parts of the park so it doesn’t become a site for canines to relieve themselves. Others urged the developers to keep in mind the size of the lot.

“It’s not a large space. If you put too many things in, it becomes even smaller,” said committee member Simon Ha. “My suggestion would be just keep it simple. Keep it clean, safe and easy to maintain.”

The public meeting for South Grand Park is Monday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. at First Draft, 1230 S. Olive St. The third meeting will take place on Nov. 13. The location has not yet been announced.