Los Angeles County is poised to take the next step forward in its long-term renovation of Willowbrook's Earvin "Magic" Johnson Park.
In November 2017, the Board of Supervisors approved funds to acquire sites located at 900 and 946 E. 126th Street from the Ujima Housing Corporation for $1.76 million. Now, should a motion by 2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas be adopted, the County will dedicate up to $300,000 for the demolition of the remaining structures on the properties, which were most recently developed with multifamily housing.
Although most of the 126th Street sites have already been cleared, the removal of foundations and other underground infrastructure will allow for the properties to be folded into the adjacent park, growing its total footprint to 120 acres. Prior to the construction of the park and multifamily housing, the land functioned as an oil storage facility between the 1920s and 1960s. As a result, the entire site is in the midst of an environmental clean-up.
The County adopted its ambitious master plan for Magic Johnson Park in 2016, which calls for sweeping changes to the expansive, but mostly utilitarian recreation area. The proposed makeover would reprogram the current composition of large grass fields, walking paths and ponds with new features such as an equestrian center, a dog park, recreation fields, an outdoor amphitheater, picnic shelters, restrooms, enhanced lighting and an event center. A site plan shows that the existing ponds would be redesigned to incorporated fishing docks, boats, bridges and filtration gardens.
Landscape architecture firm AHBE was tapped to design the master plan, which is expected to be built out over approximately 18 years at a cost of $135 million.
A vote on Ridley-Thomas' motion is scheduled for tomorrow's meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
The Magic Johnson Park makeover serves as a centerpiece to more expansive changes taking place throughout the Willowbrook community, spurred by the revival of the MLK Community Hospital, which is located nearby.
To the south, Olson Homes broke ground last year on a 94-house development at a long-vacant 9.5-acre plot near El Segundo Boulevard.
Farther east, Metro is investing $66 million to upgrade to the busy Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, which serves over 30,000 daily passengers on the Blue and Green Lines. A handful of affordable housing developments are either planned or underway at properties located within walking distance of the light rail stop.
Many of these sites fall within a "T.O.D. Master Plan" for the Willowbrook community, which is intended to guide new development around the station.