By LUCY GUANUNA
HISTORIC FILIPINOTOWN — The conversion of the former Rampart Division police station into the stylish new headquarters for the SWAT team was slated to be been finished next month. But the building remains a hollowed out eyesore, and the completion date has been postponed until next year in part because construction was temporarily halted following the discovery of skeletal remains.
Work was suspended earlier this year after the contractor found bones on the Temple Street property. But construction resumed after an archaeologist determined that the bones were bovine and, according to a progress report this summer, were of “no major concern.” Thomas Brennan, Commanding Officer of Facilities Management, said the construction remains ongoing but did not have a new tentative completion date. The project on Temple Street is 40% complete and remains on budget.
The $17.6 million project will convert the former 1960s era police station – empty since the Rampart Division moved operations to a facility in 2008 – into the home of the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division, which includes the SWAT Team, K-9 unit, horse-mounted patrols and other operations. The move will give the division more room to conduct business after having shared quarters with the Central Division downtown for many years.
This year’s construction delay is the most recent problem to crop up at the vacant station, which has attracted copper thieves, taggers and trash and also became a point of tension between the department and residents who wanted it used for a community center. Security was hired when construction began and is on the premises around the clock, solving the problem of theft. But Brennan said the department continues to receive complaints about the trash and the closure of the sidewalk on Benton Way, which he said they are working to opening as soon as possible.
The conceptual design of the retrofitted station, designed by Perkins & Will, was honored during the 2012 LA Architecture awards. The new station’s design respects the original architecture of 1966, while carving out large areas of the building to allow sunlight in. The renovation will strengthen the building to better withstand earthquakes and will feature all new electrical, plumbing and ventilation systems.
Lucy Guanuna has reported on a variety of issues, including business, education and social justice movements in her native Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Daily Sundial, L.A. Activist, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.