Last year Silver Lake residents selected a saddle-shaped steel structure to serve as the focus of a new public plaza on what is now a patch of asphalt at Sunset Junction. But after the creators of the winning entry spent several months refining their design, the entire project is on hold until the city finds sufficient money to build the saddle – officially known as BLOOMRS – and the surrounding plaza, which is to anchor the western-end of $1.5-million worth street improvements along Sunset Boulevard. “We are looking into alternative sources of funding,” said Council District 13 spokeswoman Julie Wong.
Meanwhile, the $1.5 million worth of street improvements on Sunset between Edgecliff and Santa Monica Boulevard have been pushed back yet again, with construction not expected to start late this summer, said Wong.
After winning the Sunset Junction Design competition, Heather McGinn of the firm All That is Solid worked with city engineers to refine the design of BLOOMRS, which was presented as a saddle shaped structure made from Corten Weathering Steel. The flattened mid section of the saddle would provide room for seating and landscaping while one of the raid tips of the structure would provide shelter for visitors. Last month, McGinn said the new, scaled down version of the BLOOMRS would be shorter than originally envisioned but still use the same materials and retain the same shape. The estimated cost to build the saddle now falls under the $100,000 budget, McGinn said.
However, there seems to be a misunderstanding over what the $100,000 budget was to have included. Wong at Council District 13 said the $100,000 was to cover the entire cost of the centerpiece sculpture or artwork as well as a surrounding small plaza at the intersection of Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards. But, during the initial design phase of the contest, McGinn said that she and the other designers were aware that the $100,000 budget was to include the cost of their entry and the repaving the ground immediately underneath but not the reconstruction of nearby curbs and other elements of the streets and sidewalks.
Neither McGinn or Council District 13 provided any figures as to how much money needs to be raised to complete the entire Sunset Junction plaza and sadde. Who is going to cough up that extra cash? That’s not clear. Officials with the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, which provided $2,500 to the winning entry, said they had not been approached about providing more money to close the budget gap.
Meanwhile, as the city works to come up with cash to build the Silver Lake saddle and plaza, Silver Lake merchants between Santa Monica Boulevard and Edgecliff should prepare for construction on street improvements – including from new crosswalks and street furniture and landscaping – to begin in late summer and “take several months,” said Wong. While that project will be disruptive, the enhancements should create a more attractive environment to attract more pedestrians and visitors to the area, she said.