The parcel is presently a parking lot, but once the $5.2 million project is complete it will be a nearly 32,000 square foot community space. In fact, the city is set to fill the block with a veritable kitchen-sink package of urban naturalism, including a drought-resistant garden, a teardrop-shaped center plaza with a lawn and stage, greenhouses, and fruit-bearing trees.
There’ll also be art by Chicana artist Carmen Lomas Garza, and an “interactive water feature which then recycles the water for subsurface irrigation.” One section of the plaza will have workout equipment for adults, right next to the children’s playground.
The new park was originally proposed over six years ago and was supposed to break ground last fall, but the whole thing was delayed to allow the Public Utilities Commission to finish proposed sewer maintenance on the site…which was subsequently cancelled anyway. Prior to that, funding was the major holdup. The city applied for a grant in 2010, which eventually came in the form of $2.7 million from California Rec & Parks.
Construction should take a little less than a year, with the city shooting for a December 2016 or January 2017 opening. The park will eat up only a portion of the 17th Street parking lot, but housing has been proposed for the remainder.