Extensive renovation of South Los Angeles’s Magic Johnson Park moves forward

Magic Underway

Extensive renovation of South Los Angeles’s Magic Johnson Park moves forward

The master plan are slated to be completed in phases until 2036 to allow the park to remain open to the South Los Angeles Community. (Courtesy AHBE | MIG)

Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved funding that will bring the proposed master plan of Magic Johnson Park in Willowbrook, California, one step closer to reality. Though the first phase of the 120-acre redevelopment has been postponed several times since the project was first announced in 2018, the board’s allocation of $3.74 million in Measure A and Measure U funds brings the city much closer to its $11 million target for the park’s next phase.

People standing and sitting in a park with water in the distance
The master plan includes over 30 acres of wetlands using water diverted from the nearby Compton Creek. (Courtesy AHBE|MIG)

Named after basketball Hall of Famer and South Los Angeles investor Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the 104-acre Magic Johnson Park is among the largest parks in South Los Angeles, complete with amenities including fishing lakes, soccer fields, and meandering walking paths. The master plan unveiled in 2018, designed by Los Angeles-based landscape architecture firm AHBE|MIG, expands on the park’s contribution to the community by providing an additional 16 acres by including the vacated Ujima Village public housing complex into its overall vision. “The master plan reflects feedback from hundreds of residents and the result is visionary,” supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomason said his website. “From a state-of-the-art events center, new water features, upgraded walking paths and play areas, we are building amenities at Magic Johnson Park that everyone will enjoy.” Additionally, the park will divert and filter water from the nearby Compton Creek to irrigate 30-acres of wetlands and a man-made lake defining its center.

A vertical aerial diagram of a park showing a circulation path around a pond
The master plan will add 16 acres to the park by redeveloping the public housing complexes in the northwest and southeast corners of the site. (Courtesy AHBE|MIG)

The first and most expensive phase of the project, which most notably includes a 20,000-square-foot community events center, began construction last March and is slated for completion later this year with an estimated $70 million cost. The other phases of the project, which have a total estimated cost of $135 million, will take place over the course of 18 years to avoid withholding amenities to the public. Given the slow growth of the master plan, AHBE|MIG has proposed future additions that could include an aquatic center, a skate park, and a sculpture garden.