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Students’ Dream For Temporary Urban Park Survives Filner’s Resignation

Above: A rendering of the plan for a temporary urban park in the East Village.

Aired 9/23/13 on KPBS News.

Recent graduates from NewSchool of Architecture and Design want to build an urban park at Market Street and Park Boulevard with a beer garden, farmers markets, event space and a dog run.

One day last March, a group of architecture students told Mayor Bob Filner about their idea to turn a vacant parking lot in the East Village into an urban park.

The team, now recent graduates from NewSchool of Architecture and Design, want to build an urban park at Market Street and Park Boulevard with a beer garden, farmers markets, event space and a dog run. Instead of buying the land for their park, they want to temporarily lease it from the city.

They took their idea to one of Mayor Filner's Meet the Mayor sessions, and Filner liked it. He introduced the team to Civic San Diego, the nonprofit created to replace the city's dissolved redevelopment agency.

Philip Auchettl, one member of the team, says that was enough to keep the project going after Filner resigned. He says they're now working with Interim Mayor Todd Gloria's office, and that Civic San Diego and the City Attorney are writing a two-year lease (with a one-year extension) for the space.

Once the lease is ready, Auchettl says the restaurant and event management company Best Beverage Catering wants to become a tenant, and would set up a beer garden and bring events to the space.

"Instead of just having these empty lots downtown, how can we actually do something with them and make them pedestrian friendly and inviting to the public," he said.

Right now, the team is trying to raise $60,000 through the website Kickstarter to pay for permits and site improvements. Auchettl said that won't pay for the whole project, but they have lined up an investor to help cover the rest.

"We see it as an opportunity for the East Village to actually get involved, be a part of something that can be much for exciting than a vacant, blighted, empty piece of land," he said.

The team hopes to start construction on the park in November, and wants a grand opening in December.

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