Koreatown L.A.’s one and only recreation park with a grass lawn is on the verge of making way for yet another high rise building, drawing strong opposition from local residents who are reportedly preparing a lawsuit to protect the neighborhood’s rest area.
The controversial construction project is overseen by Jamison Services, the largest Korean-American real estate firm in the country. The proposed construction, titled, “Park Place (3700 Wilshire Blvd.) Redevelopment Project,” entails plans for a 36-story commercial and residential building to replace Wilshire Park’s natural grass area.
Although the opposition remains fierce, Jamison Services is suggesting that the new building could create jobs for the local community.
However, the local residents have responded that the real estate firm is only attempting to feed its own ambitions by stealing the neighborhood’s valuable property.
Wilshire Park, best known among Korean immigrants as the area they flocked into for South Korea’s World Cup games every four years, has a special place in the hearts of Korean-Americans, especially as it is the last remaining natural grass park in the area.
According to the city of L.A.’s Urban Forestry Division, Koreatown is only limited to 0.07 acre of green land per 1,000 people, which is below the city’s average of three acres per 1,000 residents.
“Removing Wilshire Park would be stripping the neighborhood of its last area in which the residents can take a breather,” said Koreatown resident Jin-sook Kim. “I am not sure if constructing a big building to replace the only remaining green area can serve the community in any way.”
The local residents have already started a petition to oppose the construction project. Completed in 1966, Wilshire Park was donated by property owner Joseph Mitchell to the community.
“About 20 trees that were planted at the park in 1967 still remain in the same place,” said another Koreatown resident Ann Kim. “It would be wrong to remove the park that still has valuables from when it was first built.”
Some locals say that it is embarrassing for them to realize that the thought of replacing the park with a commercial property is even considered.
“A real estate company owned by a Korean-American should prioritize serving the Korean community,” said one anonymous Koreatown resident, who only wished to be identified by his last name Cha. “I cannot understand why they’re trying to take away the only green land in the area. It’s embarrassing and shameful.”
The local residents are preparing multiple ways to oppose to redevelopment project. On Dec. 7 at 10:30 a.m., some of them plan to attend the public hearing to voice their concerns. It is conceivable that the conflict between Jamison Services and the Koreatown residents could become even more contentious at the hearing.
Moreover, more than 150 people have already signed the petition to oppose the construction.
“We have already spoken to a lawyer about ways to protect the park,” Kim said. “The real estate company won’t have it so easy to get their wish.”
Residents in Koreatown can make inquiries about the project via email.
▶ Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org / Mails: City Planning Dept. 200 N. Spring St. #703 LA, CA 90012
By Koo Hyun Chung