With a price tag that has nearly tripled to $3 billion, construction finally has started on the long-anticipated Grand Avenue project in downtown Los Angeles, developers said this week. The project – which will feature a 16-acre park and an iconic Frank Gehry-designed tower near the Walt Disney Concert Hall – will include retail stores, cafes, restaurants and bars expected to transform the area into a cultural and entertainment hub. There also will be 3.6 million square feet of new development, including a 48-story Mandarin Oriental Hotel & Residences, a 250,000-square-foot retail pavilion, a 19-story residential tower and a 16-acre park between City Hall and the Music Center. Originally estimated four years ago to cost $1.25 billion, the costs jumped $600 million in 2005 when the Grand Avenue Authority purchased an additional site to develop. “This is an open checkbook for a New York developer that is not going to reflect the economic needs of Los Angeles County,” Antonovich said. “I’m also concerned about how they are restricting jobs to people who live in certain ZIP codes, denying work opportunities for all our county residents who have a vested interest in the county’s property.” But Bill Witte, president of Related Cos. of California, said that even though the project’s price has risen from the original $1.25 billion estimate it will not require additional public subsidies. “In fact, because of the higher costs and values, the property taxes and other revenues that accrue to the city and county from the project will be far greater than originally estimated,” Witte said. “The public will be getting far more back than originally predicted. The reason is property taxes are assessed by value and cost.” When completed, a full city block bordered by Grand Avenue, Olive, First and Second streets will be affected. [email protected] 213-974-8985160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat Kings“Beginning construction on the The Grand represents the culmination of three years of intense planning, designing and collaboration with a vast group of community and civic participants,” said Stephen M. Ross, chairman and chief executive officer of The Related Cos. “We are excited to be leading this project and taking the next step in downtown Los Angeles’ continued revitalization.” Work began this week with abatement of lead paint on a parking structure at Grand Avenue and First Street in preparation for demolition. That will be followed next fall by construction of a civic park in the existing County Mall. The park between the county Hall of Administration building and the Stanley Mosk Courthouse is envisioned as an urban gathering place and a venue for public events. It will feature terraces, lawns, gardens and a plaza area that includes street-front, multilevel retail shops, terraces and walkways. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who has opposed the project over an estimated $176 million in tax breaks and subsidies, said his concerns are growing amid the escalating costs.