The 2.22-acre “LA Plaza” downtown is supposed to be “the nation's premier center of Mexican American culture and arts” when it opens in spring. But right now it's the center of a controversy involving … bones.

The remains could belong to people buried in the city's first cemetery, and critics have said the public project wasn't doing it right: They said that, under state law, descendants of the dead need to be tracked down and told where their forebears were being moved.

Now excavation for that part of the Plaza has been put on hold.

Miguel Angel Corzo, CEO of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, said this on Friday:

“We at LA Plaza have decided to halt work on the former camposanto area of our campus indefinitely, in light of the unexpected number of human remains uncovered and their great historical significance. From the moment we discovered human remains on our site, we have conducted the necessary archaeological excavation in strict accordance with the law, all professional archaeological and osteological standards, and in communication with the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the Native American Heritage Commission, and the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner. At this time, however, we believe it is in the best interest of both LA Plaza and the larger community to put this section of our project on hold.”

The Plaza, championed by county Supervisor Gloria Molina for 10 years, is going up adjacent to historic Olvera Street.

It will include a cultural center, historic exhibitions and highlights on Mexican Americans' role in the development of L.A. It's being funded by the county and private donations.

Corzo said work will still be done at LA Plaza, just not in the “camposanto” area.

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