Chris Jordan, executive director of the Grant Housing and Economic Development Corp. based at Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church, foresees an intense community debate.

"There's been a lack of development in the entire area of Watts, so when there's a hint of anything happening, there's always heightened awareness and an excitement that goes along with it," he said. Jordan says he hopes the outcome will offer something for adults as well as youngsters and will serve both cultural and recreational purposes, perhaps by commissioning artists and landscaping experts to embellish a skate park design.

"That's the tightrope that's going to have to be walked," he said. .

The skate park originated with Circe Wallace, senior vice president of management at Wasserman Media Group, which manages professional athletes and does sports-related marketing. She said she'd first gotten to know Hahn when her client, professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez, helped establish a skate park in Harbor Gateway.

Watts has smaller skateboarding layouts in the Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts housing projects and at Ted Watkins Memorial Park; Wallace, whose specialty is managing action-sports athletes, wanted to develop something big in the neighborhood, and, along with her L.A.-based clients Rodriguez and Terry Kennedy, enlisted Hahn's help.

Wallace reached out to Hawk, and in October the annual Beverly Hills benefit for his Tony Hawk Foundation, which makes grants to help build skate parks across the nation, raised $44,000 for the Watts Towers skate plaza.

Colby Carter, senior designer of California Skateparks, an Upland company that's providing pro bono design work, said the conceptual plan he's come up with is "easily a $350,000 build for sure." Wallace is the point person for fundraising and says that the Wasserman Foundation, headed by her boss, will be among the donors.

Like his entertainment mogul grandfather, Lew Wasserman -- who helped raise the money to create the Music Center and was founding president of Center Theatre Group -- Casey Wasserman has branched into arts philanthropy, including a $1.5 million Wasserman Foundation gift to LACMA in 2007.

In his design, Carter said, he tried to take inspiration from the Watts Towers. The conceptual plan features three circular areas for skaters, an echo of its three towers.

Kiara Harris, spokeswoman for the Community Redevelopment Agency, said that for the skate park to become a reality it would have to be approved by the CRA's board. Then, she said, the City Council would have to concur.

Among the agencies that might have some say would be the city's Office of Historic Resources, whose manager, Ken Bernstein, said any review it might do would seek to "ensure there is no adverse impact on the towers physically or to its historic significance."

mike.bohem@latimes.com