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Construction begins on Spring Street Park; supporters hope project will attract families to DTLA

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, August 02, 2012, at 12:45PM

Cheryl White says her dog, Kona, is also very excited about Spring Street Park that's scheduled to open next summer.

City officials broke ground today on the construction phase of a new downtown L.A. parklet located between 4th and 5th streets, dubbed the Spring Street Park. In addition to the symbolic shoveling of dirt and performance from local kids singing "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider," there was a lot of talk about the project's leadership; past and future.

"I'm a little sad, but I'm also excited to see these little kids here and how happy they are… I guess it's just a life-cycle," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose office led the park project until recently, when redistricting removed Spring Street from her district.

Multiple speakers lauded Perry's efforts in keeping the momentum of the project going. Jon Kirkmukri, general manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks, said the councilwoman really "stuck her neck out" for Spring Street Park.

Now, the project's in councilman José Huizar's hands -- who said his district went from encompassing about 40 percent of Downtown, to 90 percent of it. There are groundbreakings, store openings and new projects announced almost every day, he said, but there's also been a vocal desire for more things typically found in a single-family neighborhood.

"They [Downtown residents] want clean streets, they want safe streets, they want libraries, parks, places where their children can feel safe," said the councilman, adding that ten years ago DTLA only had 10,000 residents -- now that number is up to 50,000, with 500,000 people who come to downtown L.A. to work.

The new .71-acre Spring Street Park is located between the El Dorado Lofts and Rowan Lofts, and will include walking paths, a large lawn space and areas for children to play. Cheryl White lives in the El Dorado building, and said she came to Thursday's groundbreaking (with her dog, Kona) to show her support and enthusiasm for the project.

"I'm told that there's an area in the back where we can bring them (the dogs) and let them do their thing before they enjoy the rest of the park," said White. "Which will be great because it will allow us to keep the park a lot cleaner and a little more enjoyable for everybody I think."

She added that she already makes use of Angels Flight park as well as the space outside LAPD headquarters, but said Downtown can "definitely use more green space."

This new parklet is bankrolled by Quimby funds -- money allocated from new developments that go towards building parkland or recreational facilities.

"As the buildings go up, we get Quimby fees," said Jon Kirkmukri, general manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks.

He said the department will continue to create green space in the city "boldly" and "quickly," and emphasizes the dramatic difference even a small park can make to an urban community.

Huizar seems to agree too. He said his goal is to encourage residents who move Downtown, to stay Downtown.

"The one thing I'm concerned about is that anecdotally I've been hearing from people that they come live here for two, three years -- they wanted to experience the urban lifestyle and then they...move on to other places," he said.

Although Downtown has seen a surge in residents and commuting workers, Huizar said he hopes that by bringing more parks, schools, and other "community assets" to the city, more families will move to DTLA.

"When people want to live here with their families you known Downtown has arrived as a true neighborhood in a sense," he said.

Phase I of Spring Street Park involved demolition and excavation of the area; Phase II, which begins today, involves construction of all the park's features. The finished space is expected to be ready by next summer.


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