Firms Give $1.1 Million for Revival of Pershing Square

From United Press International

Several leading Los Angeles companies have donated $1.1 million to the restoration of Pershing Square, the historic park at the center of downtown, it was announced Friday.

Officials with the Pershing Square Management Assn., a non-profit group organizing to raise at least $3.5 million in private funds, said the donations were made at a fund-raising party that drew 300 business and civic leaders to the Biltmore.

"These contributions from Los Angeles' leading businesses demonstrate the commitment of the private sector toward bettering the quality of life downtown," said Wayne Ratkovich, chairman of the management association.

"Each donation brings us closer to our goal of creating a park that reflects the vitality of our city," he said.

The total cost of restoring Pershing Square is estimated at $14.5 million. The city's Community Redevelopment Agency has contributed $6 million toward the project.

A large part of the $1.1 million raised to date was donated by Arco Foundation, Biltmore Partners-The Biltmore Hotel, Houk Development Co., Maguire Thomas Partners and the Security Pacific Foundation.

Dedicated in 1866, the five-acre park has, in recent years, become a haunt for transients while skyscrapers sprouted around it.

Last year, a New York-based architectural firm was selected to draft the blueprint for the renovation.

Janet Marie Smith, president of the association, said that while it is her group's immediate goal to raise at least $3.5 million from the private sector, the additional $5 million needed to cover all costs will come from varied sources, including possibly a bond issue.

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