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New ‘Pocket Park’ In East Village Opens Sunday

Photo caption:

Photo credit: RAD Lab

An East Village "pocket park" designed by Rad Lab with Downtown San Diego Partnership and HP Investors will open Sunday, June 8, 2014.

Three months ago, a group hatched a plan to make over a vacant lot at 13th Avenue and J Street in the East Village. They asked residents and passersby what should go in the space and chose the most popular answer. That answer was a "pocket park" that will open on Sunday.

The park will have trees, seating made from recycled wooden palettes, a mural from local artist Christopher Konecki and a giant word search painted on the ground and furniture.

Commercial real estate company HP Investors owns the lot. The firm's principal Sumeet Parekh decided to loan it to the nonprofit Downtown San Diego Partnership, who then worked with the design firm RAD Lab to plan out the space.

Philip Auchettl, RAD Lab's CEO, said they asked for the public's input on what should go in the lot.

"In a number of days we got an overwhelming number of responses, anything from a dodgeball tournament ring to a snake pit to an outside space to gather," he said. "Overall, most responses asked for a garden space or a seating area or a park, so we went in that direction."

The pocket park cost $15,000 to create, all paid for with a grant from HP, Auchettl said. The park will be closed at night and will be temporary, only staying in the lot for a year.

Kris Michell, president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, said small projects like these are part of a trend called "tactical urbanism," which means creating quick, cheap and sometimes temporary projects that draw foot traffic to downtown spaces.

"It allows us to maximize space in downtown," Michell said. "Placemaking is really the spaces between the buildings, and so what we try to do is reimagine that space."

Michell said the park will help with the dearth of children's parks and green space in the East Village.

"They don't have any place for kids to go," she said. "This will be a focal point for many in the community."

The pocket park officially opens on Sunday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m.

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