By The Angels 2010 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By The Angels 2010 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
The city’s Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners took a step toward redesigning downtown’s Pershing Square, unanimously supporting an agreement with a nonprofit set up to lead the effort.

The agreement between the Recreation and Parks Department and the nonprofit Pershing Renew is expected to go to a full City Council vote in about two weeks, according to Councilman Jose Huizar, who formed the nonprofit.

Huizar, whose district includes the downtown area, attended the board meeting Wednesday morning to push for approval of the agreement, which would give Pershing Renew the ability to launch an international design competition to select a firm to help transform the park.

Huizar said Pershing Square “hasn’t lived up to its potential” and was redesigned in the 1990s “with a fortress-like mentality.”

Despite the latest wave of growth and interest in downtown Los Angeles, residents and visitors still seem to avoid the park, which is one of the area’s “precious open spaces,” he said.

“It doesn’t really blend well into the local community, the sight views — you really can’t see — there’s a lot of blockage. So I thought it was worthwhile to go out and have a competition to redesign the park for what is the modern downtown L.A.,” Huizar said.

Huizar added that the benefit of the private-public agreement approved by the board is that “we’re able to leverage private dollars to invest in this beautiful park.”

He said MacFarlane Partners, a neighbor of the park, already has donated $1 million, while the developers of Metropolis, a property under construction across from Staples Center, have put in $250,000.

“So we anticipate as this rolls out, we will leverage additional private dollars to help redesign the park,” Huizar said.

— City News Service

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