State pitching in to buy key piece of L.A. River ‘puzzle’

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Senate leader Kevin de Leon says the state will contribute $25 million to buy part of an old rail yard in Cypress Park that Mayor Eric Garcetti has called a “crown jewel” of the restoration plan. De Leon announced the funding yesterday at an annual Garden Party held by the L.A. River Revitalization Corp. He calls the 40-acre parcel a “very large piece in the greater puzzle” of fixing the troubled waterway.

The property is owned by Union Pacific. It’s part of Taylor Yard, a former railroad facility that sits between the river and Rio de Los Angeles State Park, a short hop from downtown. The L.A. Times reports that the city of L.A. is still negotiating a purchase price with Union Pacific, but the money from the state is expected to cover most of the cost.lariver

The announcement comes as city and federal officials are in the final stages of negotiating a cost-sharing agreement on what is expected to be a $1.4 billion restoration of 11 miles of the 51-mile river. That would involve ripping out concrete from the river bottom and its banks between Glendale and Chinatown. Plans call for the restoration of more than 700 acres of native habitat and new recreation areas, among other things.

It also comes as controversy boils over the selection of architect Frank Gehry to help plan the restoration project. It’s not clear what that vision will look like. Gehry’s firm says it’s still assessing the landscape.

De Leon says the impending purchase of the Taylor Yard parcel signals that the long-hoped-for revitalization of the L.A. River is becoming a reality.