Knight Cities Challenge Announces Finalists, Five Seek to Make Long Beach a Better Place • Long Beach Post

Selected from a pool of more than 4,500 applicants, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced their 144 finalists in the third annual Knight Cities Challenge, five of which seek to benefit Long Beach.

The challenge is a nationwide call for ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work, according to the release.

This is not the first time City Fabrick has been selected as a finalist. The local nonprofit design studio, working with the City of Long Beach and the community, submitted Coolidge Down-Under Park, a project that would connect neighborhoods adjacent to Coolidge Triangle by taking the unused service yard under the Artesia Freeway, and transforming it into two acres of public space.


“We see the Coolidge Down-Under Park as a potential culmination to the planning process,” said Vice Mayor Rex Richardson in a statement. “This new public open space will also make an immediate impact for our community by expanding available park amenities while serving as a bridge between multiple neighborhoods.”


Screenshot taken from Google Earth.

While freeways are essential to transportation, they have also been one of the most impactful types of infrastructures for urban areas, said Brian Ulaszewski, principal and executive director of City Fabrick.

“They have carved up neighborhoods, creating physical barriers between neighbors, families and friends,” Ulaszewski stated. “The Coolidge Down-under Park has the opportunity to heal some of those wounds by stitching together some North Long Beach neighborhoods with new public open space.”

The project’s concept was developed by the community during the city’s North Long Beach Open Space Plan effort, according to one of the project’s partners Marie Knight, director of the Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine.


Image courtesy of City Fabrick.

The Open Space Plan “identified unused spaces in an area with limited park space that with a little creativity, could be turned into a park space with big impact,” stated Knight. “The Knight Cities Challenge provides critical funding to fulfill one of the visions of the North Long Beach Open Space Plan amidst limited resources and brings together many local partners to continue the momentum.”

Other Long Beach finalists include the Long Beach Public Library’s Busker Booth that would provide opportunities for the “unsung heroes of street music” by allowing musicians to record their art using a portable micro-recording booth.

The Growing Experience Program would engage youth living in underserved neighborhoods by inviting them to participate in an “edible green wall” network placed throughout Long Beach’s nine districts, that would grow herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

LA River Stories by River LA, a nonprofit organization working to ensure the Los Angeles River uses design and infrastructure to bring people, water and nature together, would include Long Beach. The city sits at the end of the river’s 51-mile stretch. The proposed multimedia public engagement project would showcase stories about the diverse residents that use the river and ultimately inspire public planning with the needs of those users at the forefront.

POPulated: Parklets for All, submitted by Long Beach-based Studio One Eleven, would transform on-street parking stalls into inclusionary public spaces, as well as provide amenities to local neighborhoods, according to the release.

“The finalists use creativity and inventiveness to tackle community challenges and realize new opportunities, proposing ideas that are unique to their city, but also hold lessons and inspiration for civic innovators across the country,” said George Abbott, Knight Foundation director for community and national initiatives, in a statement.

For more information about the Knight Foundation and Knight Cities Challenge, visit the website here. For a list of all the finalists, click here.

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