The Willowbrook MLK Wellness Community Vision and Medical Center Master Plan establish a framework for future growth and development of the campus and adjacent neighborhood, the latter of which is neglected, underserved and riddled with underutilized land stemming from the 1965 Watts Riots, the 1992 civil unrest, closing of the MLK Hospital and recent economic downturn. In response, the County of Los Angeles, understands that the reopening of the hospital provides a catalytic opportunity for future development and investment. Taking advantage of new medical facilities, as the first step in reinventing the community within the context of health and wellness, enables the revitalization of the Medical Center Campus and adjacent neighborhood, while advancing social, economic and environmental quality in South Los Angeles.
The objective of the Community Vision and Master Plan is to translate the aspirations of the County and Community, gathered through extensive outreach activities, into tangible and practical recommendations to create a community of health and wellness. Addressing the public health epidemics of diabetes and obesity, as a direct result of urban design and planning decisions, is at the heart of the Plan’s recommendations. A multi-pronged, mutually supportive approach is necessary to respond to the chronic disease, economic distress and deteriorated physical condition evidenced in South Los Angeles. Solutions include an incremental series of inter-related improvements, including new facilities and open spaces, aimed at increasing physical activity, providing wider access to healthy food and elevating air and water quality.
The organizing feature of the Master Plan is the Wellness Spine, a path establishing the primacy of the pedestrian and bicyclist. It provides a strong visual identity and a clear connection between community resources and amenities. It supports the concept of health and wellness by encouraging physical activity, reducing environmental impacts and contributing to a lively and safe community. The newly established Community Hub includes elements ranging from the marketplace and business incubator, to temporary installations, sculpture gardens, community learning centers and meeting rooms, fostering economic growth and enhancing a sense of kjnship. These provisions, among others, are equally as important as new medical facilities in fostering health.
The plan utilizes contemporary planning techniques and systemic solutions that better respond to the imperative of healthy lifestyles fundamental to the creation of a community of wellness. Ultimately, the Willowbrook MLK Wellness Community Vision portrays a future that develops and thrives over 20 years, with components that can be implemented in the short term, at relatively low cost, but with high impact.