Community Weighs In on Green Space Plans at Gilbert Lindsay Plaza

AEG is looking to transform the 140,000-square-foot open space of Gilbert Lindsay Plaza into a landscaped park. 

Gilbert Lindsay Plaza links Staples Center to the Los Angeles Convention Center, but for many visitors to either, it might be seen as a bland concrete space. Now the city and its private collaborators are taking in community feedback for how best to turn that walkway into a green space for the South Park neighborhood.

On June 5, Anschutz Entertainment Group (which operates the Convention Center and L.A. Live) and its partners unveiled an initial look for the transformation of the 140,000-square-foot open space, based on feedback from the first meeting in late April. Roughly 60 people turned out for the meeting at the J.W. Marriott hotel at L.A. Live., including project members and nearby residents, and gave feedback to better refine the project.

The redevelopment of the site is part of AEG’s wider overhaul of the Los Angeles Convention Center, done in partnership with Plenary Group. Plans call for linking the two buildings of the exhibition facility, and adding a total of 350,000 square feet of new space.

Representatives from AEG and other groups behind the meeting said a timeline for the plaza is unclear, and the purpose of the meetings were, in addition to getting local feedback, to develop a possible model and get an estimate on its costs.

The redesign and reprogramming of GLP is intended to serve multiple uses, especially since for most of the year the space will not be used by events at the Los Angeles Convention Center, according to Ted Tanner, AEG’s senior executive vice president for real estate.

“It’s about having flexible multipurpose event space for the Convention Center, as well as provide an attractive pedestrian friendly heavily spaced landscaped space for the community to use,” Tanner said.

The initial proposal mostly calls for turning Gil Lindsay Plaza from a hardscaped concrete area into a green space. Most of the redevelopment is on the northern side of Pico Boulevard. A café with seating for up to 160 people would sit on the south end of that lot, while a 170-seat amphitheater would be on the northern end, next to a splash pad. That water feature could be turned off to allow for a farmer’s market to be set up. The currently concrete space would see a lawn go up in the middle, which could also be used as an event space, per AEG, and could hold an 80-meter-by-30-meter tent for special occasions. Trees would heavily line the space, creating a canopy over most of the plaza, save for the lawn.

“The biggest ask [at the first meeting] was, ‘please, shade,’” said Cindy Sanders, CEO and partner of Olin Partners, a landscape architecture firm working on the initial design. “’Please give us shade, please give us gardens, please give us some lawn.’”

The plaza, named for the former Ninth District city councilman, would also feature a monument for him on the northwest corner of Figueroa Street.

Part of Pico Boulevard itself would also get a facelift, although how is less clear. Since the Convention Center redesign plans call for linking the South and West halls via an overhead walkway, the planned covered space could be activated by new wayfinding signs, light and artwork or ad space.

After the presentations, community members and development team representatives walked around looking at renderings of the initial design. Xavier Grobet, a Downtown resident who attended the meeting, said that he appreciated the versatility of the proposed plans, saying it seems like something the community could regularly use.

“It’s nice to see some green space there, but I would like to see a bit more,” he added.

Ryan Lynch, a civil engineer living in Downtown, said he was still taking in the design while looking over plans of the initial proposal. He pointed to the overall lack of parks and green space in South Park and around the Convention Center and said that more public areas are needed for this part of Downtown.

The overall redevelopment of the Los Angeles Convention Center is expected to start in 2020 and wrap in 2022.

nicholas@downtownnews.com