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Skid Row Updates: Mural by Retna, Housing Awards, Weingart Center Garden

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, at 05:42PM
IMG_6228 Ed Fuentes

The Jonah Project mural by Retna, with El Mac and Estivon Oriol, is at 6th and Crocker.

WALL ART: Pastor Patrick Ersig approached street artist Retna to paint the wall of a former warehouse that now houses his contemporary ministry The Jonah Project at 6th and Crocker. With El Mac and in collaboration with Estivon Oriol, Retna designed and completed a mural that has a smiling man with a raised fist. It is perseverance guarding the corner of 6th and Crocker.

“I came to him and gave him complete freedom,” says Ersig, recalling his initial conversations with Retna. “He just wanted to something that was representative of what we do here. It’s positive empowerment. That’s what people really need down here to change their life. They need some hope.”

Retna surveyed the ministry, then the people of Skid Row, whom were photographed for resource material. The Jonah Project opened in early June, and the mural was completed a few weeks later.

TOP OF THE CITY: 1000 Homes, an Urban Land Institute initiative, held its Supportive Housing Innovation Awards dinner in City Hall's 26th floor Mayor Tom Bradley room last week.

Honorees included Skid Row Housing Trust’s New Carver Apartments, designed by architect Michael Maltzan. The project was the group's first outside of the Skid Row area.

The Carver also won for best affordable housing project at today's L.A. Architecture Awards.

MORE UNITS: Another Skid Row Housing Trust project, the recently-opened Charles Cobb Apartments -- nicknamed “The Cobb” -- is a 76-unit permanent supportive housing development. Its recent Grand Opening was a chance to tour 4,000 square feet of shared community space, an open-air central courtyard, community room with kitchen, and two solarium seating areas that anchor the inside hallways.

On the roof, among a rooftop garden, a panel discussion was held that included Councilwoman Jan Perry, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Los Angeles Housing Department General Manager Doug Guthrie.

"The Cobb" was highlighted as the result of agencies working together. The list of those involved included the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, L.A. County Department of Public Health, L.A. County Department of Mental Health and County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas.

OUTDOOR SPACE: The small lot next to the Weingart Center at 6th and San Pedro was once covered in asphalt. In two weeks, it will be dedicated as the "Weingart Center Garden Project," providing community space for the center's 600 residents.

a community space for the 600 residents of the Weingart Center, says landscape contractor Eva Knoppel.

Landscape contractor Eva Knoppel won a design bid back in May. The space will include picnic benches in the middle of the courtyard, a grill, extra outdoor seating and an arbor on the adjacent wall. “I wanted something with a Big Bear [Mountain] feel, she said this week.

Along with landscapers, Wiengart residents volunteered time to prepare the park, a project lead by AmeriCorps. When asked if this was considered a pocket park or community green space, the two big buzz words heard often in Downtown, Knoppel replied, “It’s a nice place to be outside.”


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