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Old April 26th, 2008, 04:25 AM   #41
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Grand Avenue Park Price Could Rise

Developer and Officials Unveil Designs, Say 'Enhanced' Facility Would Surpass $50 Million

By Anna Scott

Developer Related Cos. and local officials last week unveiled initial designs of a proposed 16-acre Downtown Civic Park, part of Related's $3 billion Grand Avenue development. They also acknowledged that providing more than the most basic amenities could push the price tag well beyond the long discussed budget of $50 million.

Related and the county last week went to the state seeking $30 million in funds for the park project.

Hundreds of people milled around the light-filled mezzanine of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on the evening of Tuesday, April 22, and stayed well after dark to peruse models, view a presentation and discuss plans for the park that will stretch from the Music Center at Grand Avenue to City Hall at Spring Street.

In a twist, design firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios presented two options: A "base park," budgeted for the $50 million that Related Cos. has already paid (now $56 million, thanks to nearly $1 million in state funds and interest earned on the initial payment) and an "enhanced park," which would require an unspecified amount of additional funding.

Construction on the basic design is expected to begin next spring and wrap in summer 2011. The enhanced version, officials said, could unfold gradually as county and other officials secure more funding.

"We have a limited amount of money," said Second District County Supervisor and Grand Avenue Authority Chair Gloria Molina on Tuesday. "Let's plan a green space, a public park that is accessible to everyone... with the money we have."

While developers and officials stressed the constraints on plans for the park, critics said the money already in hand should be enough.

"Why are they even thinking about anything more than what they have the money to do?" asked Paul Novak, planning deputy for Fifth District Supervisor Mike Antonovich. "You've got a very speculative real estate project in a down economy with rising construction costs, all of which is being subsidized by taxpayers from Encino to Long Beach to Lancaster. That's a scary recipe."

A Park in Two Parts

The 3.6 million-square-foot, Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue project, officially known as The Grand, is expected eventually to bring 2,600 housing units, 449,000 square feet of retail, a hotel, a grocery store and a health club to Bunker Hill.

The approximately $1 billion first phase is slated for completion in 2011.

The Grand, which will rise on publicly owned land, is overseen by the Grand Avenue Authority, comprised of officials from the county, the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency. Related, fulfilling part of its agreement to develop The Grand, serves as project manager for the Civic Park.

Last Tuesday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, near where the mega-development will rise, Mark Rios, a principal at Rios Clementi Hale, and programming consultant Mary McCue presented their proposals for the park.

The base plan is anchored by the existing Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, between the County Hall of Administration and the County Courthouse. It would be renovated and upgraded with features such as programmable pop-jets and dramatic lighting. The design also includes space for public art installations, lawns and gardens designed to host everything from farmer's markets to large concerts, a 3/4-mile pedestrian loop and a series of "sun gardens" and "shade gardens" along the northern and southern boundaries of the park, respectively.

The enhanced park features an open-air event pavilion decked out with colorful canopies at the center of the park, a pedestrian bridge spanning Broadway, improvements to surrounding sidewalks and additions such as extra gardens and a carousel.

While the $56 million currently available will cover the basic design, Related officials and the designers have said that ramps necessitated by the site's dramatic grade changes - 18 to 20 feet between blocks in some places - alone will cost $15 million, while equipping the park for large concerts is estimated at $5 million to $7 million.

Last week the county applied for $30 million in state funds for the Civic Park. Though no price tag on the enhanced park was revealed, Related officials said the grant would allow some elements of the design to be implemented.

Antonovich, an outspoken critic of taxpayer subsidies granted to The Grand's developers, abstained from voting on the grant application.

"I think the park grant application is really a precursor for the developer coming back to the city and county and asking for additional taxpayer subsidies for this project," said Novak. "It certainly tells us they're looking for more money."

Related of California President Bill Witte said he is confident that officials will be able to raise enough money to realize the enhanced design through donations, foundation funding and corporate sponsorship.

Mixed Reaction

Attendees of the design presentation included Downtown residents, workers and the merely curious. Reactions ran the gamut from impressed to underwhelmed.

"It's sort of boring to me. For a Grand Avenue project, it's not very grand," said Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council President Russell Brown, though after hearing the presentation he conceded, "It's actually not as horrible as I initially projected it to be."

Brown's primary complaints, echoed by others, included a non-distinct architectural style even in the enhanced design, as well as a lack of integration with nearby public transportation.

Rios and McCue emphasized programming and activities as the key to the park, discussing large and intimate spaces, outdoor dining areas and restaurants, along with family-friendly events. "What we end up with is a park that needs to be about something," said Rios. "We want it to be a place that is about social engagement."

Others complimented the design. "They've basically laid out the infrastructure fine," said DLANC member and Downtown activist Brady Westwater, though he also voiced concerns about parking and transportation impacts.

Some were excited at the prospect of having a large park in Downtown Los Angeles. "I like it," said Nathan Johnston, 29, an accountant who lives a few blocks from Grand Avenue. "I'll be glad to see the parking lots go."

Local resident Brian Lin, 32, who works in admissions at USC, agreed, citing a growing and "glaring" need for family- and pet-friendly green space Downtown.

Ninth District Councilwoman and Grand Avenue Authority Vice Chair Jan Perry called the base park design "a good first cut." The next step, she said, should be to proceed with construction "and then see what we encounter."

Even if adjustments are made along the way, she said, "I think it's going to redefine Downtown in ways that people haven't even imagined yet."

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Source: Los Angeles Downtown News
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Old April 26th, 2008, 06:57 PM   #42
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Here's an audio recording of the Civic Park presentation on April 22:

http://www.learcenter.org/html/projects/?cm=grand
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Old April 29th, 2008, 03:48 AM   #43
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Grand Avenue Construction Pushed to 2009

Developer Delays Phase One Completion Another Year

By Anna Scott

Developer Related Companies has announced that it is delaying construction on the $3 billion Grand Avenue project until next year, a company official said Monday afternoon. The company previously planned to break ground this summer.

Under the revised schedule, phase one construction would begin on Feb. 15, 2009, and finish in 2012 instead of 2011 as previously anticipated.

Initially, Related intended to begin construction on the project in October 2007, but the schedule has been pushed back multiple times.

The latest rescheduling stems from the difficulty in securing a construction loan in the ongoing credit crunch, said Related of California President Bill Witte. The previous schedule, he said, was based on the assumption that Related would be able to secure construction financing based on partially completed construction documents.

"As the financial world tightens and tightens, it's clear that's not going to be possible," said Witte.

"Nothing has changed in the timing of the documents," he added. "What has changed is our assessment of whether we can get a loan right now."

The developer plans to finalize construction documents for the Bunker Hill complex, which will include design details and help determine building costs, by the end of the year. Related will then move forward with demolishing a multi-level parking structure at Grand Avenue and First Street, probably in November, Witte said. Related previously intended to demolish the structure this past March, but decided to wait in lieu of the current fiscal situation. He said the parking structure, currently closed, could reopen in the interim.

"No one wants to have a big hiatus between the time we complete demolition and the time we start excavation," said Witte.

Plans for the approximately $1 billion first phase of the Frank Gehry-designed project, officially dubbed The Grand, call for a 48-story Mandarin Oriental Hotel & Residences with 295 rooms and 262 condominiums, a 19-story residential tower with 126 market-rate apartments and 98 affordable units, retail, a nightclub and a 16-acre Civic Park.

Construction on the park, Witte said, will proceed as scheduled, with groundbreaking slated for next spring and completion in 2011. The budget for its "base" design is $56 million, though additional amenities will cost more, officials have said.

Witte said that in June, Related will go before the Grand Avenue Authority, which is overseeing the project, to ask for formal approval of the construction delay.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 04:32 AM   #44
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Damn, even with a little Dubai muscle and they can't get things going. Related is sucking wind.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 04:49 AM   #45
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^ Perhaps it's the Gehry curse. Every project he is involved in sees delay after delay.
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 04:10 AM   #46
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Grand Avenue Civic Park Could Hit $120 Million

Officials Say Private Funds, Not City or County Money, Would Pay for Enhancements

By Anna Scott

City and county coffers will not be tapped for Downtown's 16-acre Civic Park, part of developer Related Companies' Grand Avenue project, officials said last week.

Originally budgeted at $50 million, the park's cost is likely to more than double after it breaks ground next spring, as developers plan to seek funding for additional amenities. An estimate of $120 million is "a good working number" said the project's architect, Mark Rios of design firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios.

"It might be more than that, but I think you could get most of it done for somewhere in that area," said Rios.

Months before construction begins, some are concerned about the projected increase. Fifth District County Supervisor Mike Antonovich recently abstained from voting on a county application for $30 million in state funds for the Civic Park (the other four supervisors voted in favor). Antonovich, an opponent of taxpayer subsidies already given to the development officially titled The Grand, said he sees the request as a precursor to the developer asking for more city or county money.

Related of California President Bill Witte did not rule that out, but said it would not be up to the developer to request the funds because Related serves only as project manager for the Civic Park.

"You're talking about apples and oranges here, the park and the development site," he said. "There's not going to be any more subsidies for the development site. We're not the policy maker on the park."

First District County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who chairs the Grand Avenue Authority - the city-county agency overseeing The Grand - said through a spokesman that any additional park funding would come from private sources, grants or non-local government agencies.

Ninth District Councilwoman and Grand Avenue Authority Vice Chair Jan Perry was more blunt. "We don't have the money for that," she said of the city's prospects for helping to fund the Civic Park.

"Everything that is going to be provided for the park has already been provided. That's not going to change."

Planning for Change

The Grand, a $3 billion, multi-phase project designed by Frank Gehry, is expected eventually to bring 2,600 housing units, 449,000 square feet of retail, a hotel, a grocery store and a health club to Bunker Hill.

Construction on the approximately $1 billion first phase was recently delayed from this summer until early next year, with completion scheduled for 2012.

The park, to rise on county-owned land stretching from the Music Center on Grand Avenue to City Hall on Spring Street, is expected to break ground next spring and wrap up in 2011.

During a recent public meeting, Rios presented two preliminary plans for the Civic Park: The "base" design, budgeted for $56 million, and an "enhanced" design with the elements that could escalate the price to around $120 million.

The base plan, featuring a renovated fountain between the County Hall of Administration and the County Courthouse, plus new lawns, gardens and a pedestrian loop, essentially creates a green template. The enhanced version would add an open-air event pavilion, a pedestrian bridge over Broadway and other features.

The plan, officials said, is to proceed with construction on the base design. Then, as additional funding is secured, elements of the enhanced design could be added in phases. Eventually the county hopes to form or identify a nonprofit to operate, manage and fundraise for the park.

Rios and Witte both point to Chicago's 24.5-acre Millennium Park, which boasts dining options, concert venues and interactive art, as a model. That park also began with a simple design and grew gradually as funding was secured, ultimately taking six years to complete and costing nearly $500 million.

The Chicago facility was funded by a combination of city garage revenues, tax increment financing and private donations, said Ed Uhlir, director of design, architecture and landscape for Millennium Park. The multi-pronged, piecemeal approach comes with risks, he said.

"If you can't find a donor, you could end up with a basic park," Uhlir said, noting that one early donation of $15 million jump-started private fundraising for Millennium Park. In terms of design, "There is a risk that it isn't a cohesive whole when it's finished."

The Civic Park team hopes to avoid that by creating a detailed design for the enhanced version from the start. By the end of July, said Rios, the designers will turn their current master plans into schematic designs with information on the look, layout and construction materials.

Once the Grand Avenue Authority approves the designs, the architects will take about six months to create construction documents before breaking ground.

"This is a very long process," said Rios, "and I want to make sure that when the park is open in this first phase, it's a complete design. We're setting the table for a long-term development."
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 04:32 AM   #47
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Grand Avenue Construction Pushed to 2009

Developer Delays Phase One Completion, Tinker Toy Parking May Reopen

By Anna Scott

Developer Related Cos. is delaying construction on the $3 billion Grand Avenue project until next year, a senior company official said last week. The developer previously planned to break ground this summer.

Under the revised schedule, phase one construction would begin on Feb. 15, 2009, and finish in 2012 instead of 2011 as previously anticipated.

Initially, Related intended to begin construction on the project in October 2007, but the start date on the Frank Gehry-designed development has been pushed back multiple times.

The latest rescheduling stems from the difficulty in securing a construction loan amid the ongoing credit crunch, said Related of California President Bill Witte. The previous projections, he said, followed on the assumption that Related would be able to secure construction financing based on partially completed construction documents.

"As the financial world tightens and tightens, it's clear that's not going to be possible," said Witte.

"Nothing has changed in the timing of the documents," he added. "What has changed is our assessment of whether we can get a loan right now."

The developer plans to finalize construction documents for the Bunker Hill complex, which will include design details and help determine building costs, by the end of the year. Related will then move forward with demolishing a multi-level parking structure at Grand Avenue and First Street, probably in November, Witte said.

Related previously intended to demolish the structure, known to many as the Tinker Toy lot, this past March, but decided to wait due to the current fiscal situation. He said the parking structure, currently closed, could reopen in the interim.

"No one wants to have a big hiatus between the time we complete demolition and the time we start excavation," said Witte.

The delay is a disappointment, said Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes the project site. Perry, who is also a member of the Grand Avenue Authority, the city-county panel overseeing the project, said she still expects the development eventually to proceed as planned.

"I don't have any reason to doubt that at this point," said Perry. "Obviously, we'll watch it very closely. We'll see what equity partner they bring to the table, and we'll continue to monitor it."

Perry's optimism was echoed by First District County Supervisor and Grand Avenue Authority Chair Gloria Molina. "While we are anxious to see the groundbreaking as soon as possible, we remain convinced that Related is doing everything possible to get this project underway in a very difficult credit environment," she said.

Raising Capital

Plans for the approximately $1 billion first phase of the project, officially dubbed The Grand, call for a 48-story Mandarin Oriental Hotel & Residences with 295 rooms and 262 condominiums, a 19-story residential tower with 126 market-rate apartments and 98 affordable units, retail, a nightclub and a 16-acre Civic Park.

Construction on the park, Witte said, will proceed as scheduled, with groundbreaking slated for next spring and completion in 2011. The budget for its "base" design is $56 million, though additional amenities will cost more, officials have said.

Witte said that in June Related expects to go before the Grand Avenue Authority to ask for approval of the construction delay. Related's development agreement with the Authority requires the developer to obtain approval for any major construction schedule changes.

Currently, the company is working to secure an additional equity partner, said Witte. The total equity - the amount of money the developer must provide upfront - is expected to be approximately $300 million. Related is in advanced discussions with a potential new investor, Witte said, and the unnamed entity is expected to commit approximately $100 million within two months.

Related's current equity partners include Istithmar, a sovereign fund controlled by the royal family of Dubai, which has committed $100 million to the project, and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which has committed $42 million with another $20 million expected. Related itself expects to contribute $30 million to $40 million.

If all goes according to plan, the new investment partner "doesn't change the bottom line," said Witte. "It's still the same amount of equity, but it is a sign that someone else is willing to invest $100 million in the deal, which to us is a very positive sign."

The construction loan, estimated between $650 million and $700 million, will likely come from several sources that Related already has relationships with. "The issue," said Witte, "is getting all the documentation updated for them to consider it in a more formal sense."

The challenges facing Related are not unique, said Bob Safai, a lending expert with commercial brokerage Madison Partners. Getting loans in the current financial climate is tricky, he noted, even for developers with a strong track record, and lenders are demanding more stringent underwriting across the board.

"The lenders' world has changed altogether," said Safai. "It's tough on every deal. What used to take 30 days now takes 90 days; what used to be a no-brainer is now a Rubik's Cube."

Despite the market, one upside for Grand Avenue is its protracted construction schedule, said Witte. Many expect the condominium market to improve by the time the project is slated to debut.

"We won't be opening until 2012. It's hard not to think that you won't be well into another, better cycle by then," he said. "The fact that we're opening in 2012 instead of 2009, it might not have been originally planned that way, but that is clearly something working in our favor in this climate."
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Old May 4th, 2008, 05:29 AM   #48
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CIVIC PARK MEETING HELD

May 2, 2008

A public outreach meeting was held on April 22, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The Civic Park, an approximately 16-acre site at the heart of downtown Los Angeles' civic and cultural center, will remake an existing public space into a spectacular community gathering place that provides an iconic centerpiece for Downtown Los Angeles. The Civic Park Master Plan strategy and design have been carefully cultivated by extensive outreach and dialogue with public stakeholders, elected officials and cultural partners. A place for all Angelenos, Civic Park will be a memorable destination for generations to come.

Designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios at the direction of the Grand Avenue Authority, the Master Plan is conceived to offer the greatest public benefit in the shortest amount of time by using resources efficiently and providing for building in phases. Further, the initial base plan has been deliberately crafted to accommodate a potential enhanced plan with additional features when more funding is available.

The park's flexible design provides for the many facets of urban life, from passive to programmed, personal to public, picnics to parties. The Civic Park responds to its surrounding context, welcomes to diverse neighborhoods unique to L.A., and incorporates the latest technologies and sustainable techniques, while at the same time is sensitive to the site's rich history.

The park provides places for children and families, youth and school groups, couples and the elderly, downtown dwellers, daily commuters and cultural tourists from near and far. Its central location makes it easily accessible by local and regional mass transit and is convenient to existing cultural and civic places of interest in Downtown Los Angeles.

Park amenities will include improved pedestrian access, public restrooms, security lighting, electrical, data, event infrastructure, hardscape and landscape renovation, and multilingual directional signage.

Funding:

The $56 million Base Park budget is funded by the pre-paid ground rent paid by the Related Companies to the Grand Avenue Authority. The Enhanced Park will be implemented in phases as funding is secured by the Grand Avenue Authority from various sources including public funds, private donations and corporate sponsorships

Features and Design Strategy of the Base Park:

The existing 4-block site, bounded by Grand, Spring, Temple and First streets, is divided by three city streets and challenging topography - in some places 18 and 20 feet grade changes between blocks. To create a connected, unified and effortlessly navigated park, the Plan employs several key design strategies:

1. Tie it Together: Sun & Shade Gardens: A series of Sun Gardens connect the length of the northern boundary of the park, while the southern boundary is tied together with Shade Gardens, allowing diverse microclimates for all guests to enjoy.

2. Increase Pedestrian Access: Vehicular ramps will be removed from the pedestrian realm, creating a more generous, universally accessible entry points to the park, offering a softer, greener street edge that is welcoming to park goers and passers-by.

3. Soften Grade Changes: Using the site’s grade changes as an asset, the plan envisions generous amphitheater steps and planted terracing at Grand and at Broadway, providing integrated accessible pedestrian ramps and creating inhabitable vertical space that can serve as seating for events, dining al fresco or people watching.

4. Sustainable Leader: The plan calls for the park to serve as a demonstration site for sustainability. The park will employ sustainable strategies such as preserving existing specimen trees, relocating other healthy trees, establishing a native plant palette and botanical garden, and providing an educational outreach program.

Key features of the Base Park include:

1. Fountain Plaza: The popular, yet currently hidden, 60s-era Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain will be renovated to become a focal point of Civic Park. Remaining sensitive to the iconic fountain’s historic significance, the fountain will be rehabilitated and reenergized to create an interactive gathering place.

2. Event Lawns & Market Place: Civic Park spaces are designed to provide an open framework allowing for diverse activities such as regular farmer’s markets and cultural festivals, gatherings for groups of 500 for small performances to larger assemblies of 20,000 or more for film and music festivals, yet also allowing for the quiet enjoyment of picnicking and reading.

3. Public Art: The Base Park identifies several prominent locations for future installation of iconic works of publicly-engaging outdoor sculpture. The plan’s ambitious public art program also contemplates artist workshop programming and outreach, curated seasonal installations and signature objet gardens.



Features of the Enhanced Park:

As additional funding is secured by the JPA, the park will be enhanced in a thoughtful, envisioned manner. Guided by the Master Plan, the enhancements may involve a competition for the design of additional architectural elements, such as the pavilion and bridge suggested in the master plan, and commissions for iconic works of art. Key features of the Enhanced Park include:

1. Event Pavilion: At the center of the park, a new open-air event pavilion will be a draw for visitors at all times of the day and serve as a host to civic parties, cultural festivals, and sponsored events.

2. Pedestrian Bridge: At Broadway, where the grade change is 20 feet, the Enhanced Plan calls for a pedestrian bridge spanning the street to unify the pedestrian experience of the park, provide a lookout viewing platform, and create a gateway marker over the street.

3. Beautified Streetscape: Integrating the park with the streets that cut through it, the Enhanced Park Plan proposes distinctive street pavings to define a broader pedestrian realm and calm traffic.

4. Public Art: The Enhanced Park Plan will realize the interactive outdoor sculptural pieces planned for in the Base Park. It will also build upon the series of cultural objet gardens of the Base Park.

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Last edited by Westsidelife; May 4th, 2008 at 05:47 AM.
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Old May 17th, 2008, 09:39 PM   #49
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A new rendering of The Grand...

image hosted on flickr


The website is now up and running.
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Old May 17th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #50
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that looks really nice. I seriously hope it will get built without further delays...
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Old May 17th, 2008, 11:54 PM   #51
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2012, 2013....2016... who knows? If a big name developer like Related can't get financing, wow. Would not surprise if they come back and ask for a subsidy for this.
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Old May 18th, 2008, 01:40 AM   #52
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image hosted on flickr


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image hosted on flickr
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Old May 18th, 2008, 03:11 AM   #53
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hmm :/
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Old May 18th, 2008, 08:08 AM   #54
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The new render looks much much better, good stuff.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 12:58 AM   #55
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The Norman Lear Center finally got around to posting their videos of the April 22 Civic Park meeting.



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Old June 8th, 2008, 01:00 AM   #56
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cool facade, really like it
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Old June 19th, 2008, 03:45 AM   #57
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More detailed renderings of The Grand...

image hosted on flickr

From Flickr, by lacurbed

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From Flickr, by lacurbed

image hosted on flickr

From Flickr, by lacurbed

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From Flickr, by lacurbed

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From Flickr, by lacurbed
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Old June 19th, 2008, 08:10 AM   #58
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very interesting
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Old June 19th, 2008, 08:19 AM   #59
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a bit too cluttered for my liking. They're overdoing it too much. its quite interesting, but i can't say that i actually like the project. Although once/if it's completed i may like it. who knows
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Old May 17th, 2011, 06:39 PM   #60
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Update

Grand Ave. Developer Has New 2012 Deadline
Officials Set Groundbreaking Date for 20-Story Apartment Tower

http://www.ladowntownnews.com/articl...d785668551.txt



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from http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showth...437126&page=32
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