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Gehry Is ‘Excited’ About Project

Times Staff Writer

In an appearance Tuesday before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Frank Gehry made his first public statements about his new role as the primary architect of a $1.8-billion development planned on city and county land along Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles.

“I’ve already got one winner, and I didn’t want to push my luck,” said Gehry, the architect behind Walt Disney Concert Hall, which sits in the midst of the planned development.

“But the gods have willed it otherwise,” he said, “and I am very excited about it.”

Gehry, 76, has been tapped to design the project’s iconic 40- to 50-story tower, and possibly at least one other skyscraper. He acknowledged the high expectations for the project, which has been touted by supporters as a plan to bring a center to a city that has long been without one, and said he understood the pressure and responsibility that now sit squarely on his shoulders.

“At my age, I didn’t want to get involved with just an ordinary development,” Gehry said. “Especially on this site, with everybody watching. It’s high profile, and we’re going to have to deliver a special thing, or else I am going to get run out of town. So the heat is on.”

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At the meeting, supervisors approved the Grand Avenue project, which includes a public park, skyscrapers, shopping areas and a movie theater, by a 4 to 1 vote, with Supervisor Mike Antonovich voting against the plan.

Under the terms of the plan approved Tuesday, the project’s developer, Related Cos., and its investment partners will give the government agencies -- the county and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency -- $50 million as a down payment on the lease of the properties. That money, which represents initial lease proceeds, would be poured back into the development, funding traffic improvements, renovated streetscapes and the 16-acre terraced park that would run from Grand Avenue to the Civic Center.

But before the vote, some supervisors, including Antonovich, Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe, expressed concerns that a number of major issues in the deal -- including the final cost of the public park and the extent to which the public entities will subsidize parking under the park -- are still unresolved. Yaroslavsky said that information given to the supervisors about the parking issue “has been very amorphous.”

Also still up in the air is the fate of the County Hall of Administration and the Stanley Mosk Courthouse -- both of which have seismic issues and could eventually have some or all of their offices moved to a new office building at the corner of Hill and 1st streets, planned for the third phase of the Grand Avenue project.

The motion approved by the board included an amendment requiring that the county hold on to the parcel at 1st and Hill for a “reasonable” time until it decides where to relocate the county facilities.

If the county ultimately decides to build on that parcel, the motion says, it “will honor the intent of the Grand Avenue decision.”


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