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Grand Park opens first half, draws excited visitors

July 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The official opening of the first half of Grand Park in Downtown L.A. on Thursday was a moment 12 years in the making.

The park's unveiling included a celebration of music and dance. A water show finale highlighted the park's focal point: the newly renovated Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain.

"I think it's wonderful. I love parks and open spaces," said visitor Cheryl Hines of South Los Angeles.

The $56 million expansive open space - which will be a total of 12 acres upon completion - spans four city blocks between the music center and city hall. The project is expected to be done in the fall, when park goers will be able to enjoy 24 gardens, live performances, a dog park and the splash pad, which is already popular with kids.

The park is already a draw for downtown workers like Romona Browne.

"I was so excited about it, I cancelled another appointment I had today just to walk across here. I put on my sweats, I did the walk all the way around and I came back, and it's beautiful, it just lights us up!" she said.

L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina spearheaded the project, enlisting the help of many other city leaders and real estate mogul Eli Broad. The result brings much needed green space to Downtown L.A. at no cost to taxpayers.

"The developers that we've been working with were going to create a very huge development on public land, so the trade was we need something for the public as well, and that's how we got the money upfront to build this wonderful park," said Molina.

Broad said the spot will have Wi-Fi, but perhaps most importantly, it will be a great gathering place for Angelinos.

"This place will be filled with people milling about, playing chess, dancing, working on their lap tops, because we'll have WiFi, and just getting together and meeting each other for the first time," she said.

The music center will handle all of the outdoor activities, the interactive entertainment and the live performances, the first of which will take place this weekend.


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