L.A. County supervisors OK funding, development pacts for downtown L.A. park

The vision of a civic park in downtown Los Angeles, running from City Hall to the Music Center, moved one step closer to reality Tuesday, as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to approve funding and development agreements on the park.

The park is expected to break ground in June.

The civic park is the only piece of the multibillion-dollar Grand Avenue project that has been moving forward. The rest of the development, which calls for high-rise condos and retail outlets on mostly vacant lots on Bunker Hill, has been stalled by the economic slowdown.

At the board meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Gloria Molina said she and other members of the joint city-county agency that is overseeing the Grand Avenue project hope the entire development will eventually be built.

But for now, she said, “we have a real opportunity to take a civic plaza that does not get the utilization it should be getting and . . . create a real opportunity of a green space in L.A. County that everyone will hopefully enjoy.”

The funds for the $56-million park have already been set aside, as part of a complicated arrangement entered into nearly three years ago with the city, county and developer, Related Cos.

Related gave the civic agencies $50 million in July 2007 as a prepayment of rent anticipated from the project’s first phase. With interest, that fund is nearly $56 million.

The park budget is also to get $970,000 in funds allocated for parks by Proposition 40 in 2000.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who cast the lone vote against the deals approved Tuesday, had threatened to ask his colleagues to delay the vote and study whether the $56 million could be used for something besides the civic park.

His efforts to introduce such a motion failed to get a second, and a county lawyer indicated that any such decision could be made only by the joint powers authority.