The city should take better advantage of a city-owned service yard overlooking the Los Angeles River that has become a hot piece of real estate, including transforming parts of it into a public park, Los Angeles City Council members said Monday.
Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said the city owns 25 acres of what he calls "prime real estate" at the Recreation and Parks Department's Central Services Yard, which sits along the Los Angeles River, across from Griffith Park and just north of North Atwater Park.
The Army Corps of Engineers recently announced it would recommend to Congress a $1 billion make-over of 11 miles of the Los Angeles River. About $500 million of the funding would come from the federal government, with the other half from local sources.
City leaders have taken note that the anticipated revitalization of the Los Angeles River has sparked interest from real estate investors who see potential in frontage property near a waterway that had long been considered a concrete eyesore, and are also looking to seize on the river's rising status.
A re-imagining of the yard as a park, whether as a site for active recreation or a passive space, is about to begin, with a panel chaired by O'Farrell, the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee, calling on city staffers to report back on suggestions for the best public uses for the site.
The panel's proposal to conduct a study of the idea will now go to a vote by the full City Council.
"Rather than continue using it only as a storage facility -- and anyone who walks along there will see basically junk piled up next to the river and a high fence -- it is my firm belief there is a better and higher use for that property," O'Farrell told Video News West after the committee meeting.
The 24.6-acre lot at 3900 W. Chevy Chase Drive is outdated and "was never designed in a very efficient way," the agency's general manager Mike Shull told the panel.
Shull said the Recreation and Parks Department will likely still need the yard, but space could be opened up by "stacking," or consolidating the existing single-story buildings.
The "feasibility study" ordered by the panel is a part of a grant application that could help fund the development of the yard into a park, O'Farrell said.
O'Farrell also today called on staffers to study the possibility of a sports shop and "river cafe," saying this request is "not etched in stone" and was put forth "simply for the purposes" of competing for the grant.
The yard is also near a planned $6 million suspension bridge, informally called the "La Kretz" bridge in honor of the project's biggest benefactor, Mort La Kretz, who donated $5 million, O'Farrell noted.
The proposed bridge would link equestrians and bicyclists in Atwater Village to 56 miles of horse trails in Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River Bikeway.
—City News Service