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Greenspace is a welcome gift to neighbors of new LAPD headquarters

The corner of 2nd and Spring streets in the heart of downtown has been transformed into an urban oasis with Australian brush box trees and beds of flax, rosemary and succulents.

September 17, 2009|Cara Mia DiMassa

When construction workers removed the temporary fence around the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, it was to downtown denizens like the unwrapping of a giant holiday present.

After years of demolition and construction, the dusty corner at Spring and 2nd streets suddenly gave way to a burst of greenspace, complete with a lush front lawn of grass that would do any suburban ranch house proud.

The space along 2nd Street is technically an adornment, but to residents and workers desperate for open space, they are glad to call it a park.

With palo verde and Australian brush box trees, beds of flax, rosemary and succulents and narrow ribbons of tufted fescue, the park, designed by Melendrez, the L.A.-based landscape and urban design firm, is exactingly modern in design, made to complement the building that rises in the midst.

On all sides of the building, people were relishing the new open space.

They wandered through the park, pointing out the varying shades of succulents adorning the park's planters, weaving their fingers through the native grasses that rustled in the wind.

Ed Murphy, an LAPD civilian clerk-typist, sat along a low wall near Main Street, taking a cigarette break from his work on the building's eighth floor. (The department's workers are still in the process of moving in, he said.)

"I didn't realize there was this much space," he said. "And there are very exotic plants over there."

Plans originally called for the police headquarters to take up the entire square block. But after residents complained, city officials redid the plans to add the 26,000 square feet of open space.

Kyle Strand is happy they did. He was lying on his back atop the grass Thursday, his head resting on a backpack, a baseball hat slung low over his eyes. Strand enjoyed a quick nap in the shade of the nearby buildings.

The Pasadena resident says he comes downtown "all the time." But he hadn't noticed the building -- or the park beside it -- before. "I was laying in front of a police station? Weird."

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cara.dimassa@latimes.com

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