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The Los Angeles City Council cleared the way Tuesday for the launch of an international competition to redesign Pershing Square.

The council voted 15-0 to approve an agreement between the Recreation and Parks Department and the nonprofit Pershing Square Renew, which will lead the effort.

The nonprofit was created by Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes Pershing Square, to hold the competition to select a firm to help transform the concrete-paved park and raise funds for the redesign.

Huizar said the competition will begin Wednesday, “costing the city nothing,” referring to the city’s operating budget, though some city special funds will likely be used.

He will be joined by representatives of Pershing Square Renew at City Hall tomorrow morning to discuss the details of the competition.

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

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 said 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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