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Opinion

Readers React: Antonio Villaraigosa: Grand Avenue Project is designed specifically not to be elitist

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An artist’s rendering of the Grand, which will have a hotel, residential tower, shopping, dining and a public plaza.
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To the editor: As the former mayor of Los Angeles, I took great interest in seeing Grand Avenue flourish, and I’m still proud to say I was successful in lobbying Eli Broad to locate his contemporary art museum on Bunker Hill instead of Santa Monica. I was pleased to see the Los Angeles Times give so much space to this special place.

However, Sam Lubell’s critique of the the Grand as elitist in The Times’ special section baffled me. The Grand, designed by L.A.’s own world-renowned Frank Gehry and part of the Grand Avenue Project, is intentionally focused on providing an egalitarian outdoor experience.

For the record:
1:45 PM, Jun. 14, 2019 The headline on a previous version of this article misspelled Antonio Villaraigosa’s name.

Gehry’s design is intended to draw pedestrians in, away from the street, and engage them in a variety of entertainment options, including free cultural programs like outdoor concerts. Making arts and culture more accessible to all Angelenos is necessary for a robust and diverse city.

Beyond free programming, the Grand and the Emerson (also part of the Grand Avenue Project) both bring new, affordable housing to the neighborhood, which further opens Grand Avenue to Angelenos. One-fifth of the Grand’s residential units will be affordable housing.

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I have every confidence that the Grand will be an accessible destination for all Angelenos when it opens in 2021.

Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: On Sunday, I read the L.A. Times’ coverage of the Grand Avenue Project, a “gleaming cultural hub” and a “thriving destination”.

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More recently, I read about the squalor that exists just blocks away in homeless encampments, despite infusions of taxpayer dollars. Perhaps city officials could persuade the Grand Avenue developers to take on this problem and fix it.

Christine Savage, Santa Monica

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