‘Good things are coming?’ Likely not at this empty lot in DTLA

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The flat, two-acre property on First St. and Broadway is surrounded by high fences and locked gates. Photo by Saul Gonzalez.

Vacant lots are all around LA, and one of them is right across the street from City Hall. It’s also near LAPD headquarters, federal and county court buildings, and the Music Center. The flat, two-acre property is surrounded by high fences and locked gates, on the corner of First St. and Broadway. The land used to be home to a state office building built in the 1930s, but it was razed in the 1970s after the Sylmar earthquake, and the land has been unused since. 

For a decade, signs there have said, “Good things are coming!” Those things are supposed to be manicured gardens, a public plaza with bleacher seating, expensive shade sculptures, and a two-story restaurant and cafe complex with a rooftop garden. The new green space, to-be-called FAB (for First and Broadway), would connect to LA County’s Grand Park that was recently renamed after late supervisor Gloria Molina.

This design shows a two-story restaurant and cafe complex in the proposed city park called FAB. Image courtesy Office for Metropolitan Architecture and  Mia Lehrer + Associates.

The currently empty lot on First and Broadway in Downtown LA is supposed to be home to this park design. Image courtesy of Office for Metropolitan Architecture and  Mia Lehrer + Associates.

However, now it looks like that promised park won’t become a reality in this lifetime. Why was the high-profile park abandoned? 

Saul Gonzalez, host of the California Morning Report, explains: “First, its one-time champion former LA City Councilman Jose Huizar, well, he pled guilty to corruption charges. So he's out of the picture. When Huizar left, the park became an orphan project. Second, the costs for the park’s completion started to mount, particularly during the pandemic.” 

He continues, “It's supposed to cost $28 million. The city says it doesn't have $28 million to complete the park. My question would be: Could we do something a bit more modest in scale? Doesn't have to have a two-story restaurant and cafe complex, for example. And maybe [instead] a pop-up restaurant or a coffee cart?”