Lofts? Hotel? Urban Farm? City seeks development ideas for the old Lincoln Heights jail

Lincoln Heights jail entrance

1931 section of the jail

LINCOLN HEIGHTS — It has been more than 50 years since anyone has served time in the old Lincoln Heights Jail. The five-story building on San Fernando Road next to the L.A. River has been vacant for much of that time but now the city is launching its most recent effort to find new uses for the historic landmark as efforts are underway to restore the river and build new projects and parks along its banks.

The city is seeking ideas and concepts for the 229,000-square-foot complex, which is made up primarily of two buildings, one constructed on the south end of the property in 1931 and another on the north end in 1949. The buildings pose numerous challenges, including the possible need for a structural renovation and the removal of hazardous substances ranging from asbestos to bird poop.

What can you do with a former jail that’s going to need a lot of work? The city’s “Request for Interest:” provides a few:

  • Technology or creative office (e.g. biotechnology)
  • Clean tech or other manufacturing uses
  • Adaptive re-use (such as the Helms Bakery District or Anaheim Packing District)
  • Live / Work lofts, artist studios and/or other art production space
  • Urban agriculture
  • Hotel with meeting spaces and a restaurant
  • Institutional uses (such as a museum or charter school)
  • Nonprofit uses (such as nonprofit office or performance space)
  • Publicly accessible open space associated with the new development (such as a
    river edge greenway or park.

Concepts are due May 13. More info here.

1949 portion of the jail

1949 portion of the jail

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  1. An upscale gym please! Something on the level of Equinox would be a dream come true. NELA is in desperate need of a really good gym,

    • a homeless shelter. we need it.

      • We do need more homeless shelter options, but this location is so far away from everything that I don’t think it would serve the homeless community very well (just my opinion – I don’t think it’s a bad option at all though and would be happy if it was turned into this as it would actually help some people!)

        I have a personal preference for an interesting reuse of architecture, and this jail is cool – driven by it hundreds of times and figured it would just look the way it does for years and years. The area is very industrial, so it would be hard to have a hotel, retail, etc., but housing of some sort could provide a base for some limited retail plus some office space. I would love it if NELA would be able to attract tech away from “Silicon Beach” – there is lots of talent in NELA, would be good to provide internships to local HS students and even CSULA or Occidental students, and I am sure rent would be cheaper than a similar space in DTLA, Glendale, or Hollywood.

        Almost certainly it will be better than the blighted jail!

    • david zwirner or a homeless shelter.

      i wouldn’t be surprised if either happened

  2. The submit date is actually May 13th not the 31st.

  3. There was an entire homeless community that was just cleared out a couple blocks away, at the entrance to the LA River under the 110 freeway.
    It would be perfect to house some homeless.

    • I think the homeless community was there because it was one of the places they could be without getting kicked out (at least for a while) and not because it was a good location. In fact, I’d argue it’s probably a bad location, which is why they were able to be there for so long without getting cleared out. The homeless don’t get to live where they want to, they live where they can – a good solution should decouple where these people have been living with where they might be best served, since I don’t think they’d be the same place in most cases.

      Then again, I could totally be wrong, and wouldn’t be surprised if having been somewhere makes it comfortable and therefore a preferred location, but I feel like that industrial area is not set up well for the poorest of the poor who should be able to rely on public services without undue inconvenience. Heck, they’re the people who need it the most, why make it harder for them to get?

      It could be a major overhaul though in which case those services could be placed in the location – employment help, health clinics, housing, etc. – the location is big enough for multiple facilities. Bus routes would need to be added, but that seems like a low bar to clear to ease the transportation issues of the LH jail’s location.

  4. Lincoln Heights Resident

    A gym for the residents. As a Lincoln Heights resident, the closest gym is in Downtown. A lot of families in the area have physical health problems they would like to overcome and a trainer can provide that support. Having easier access to a gym right in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood would serve as more motivation to going and working out there.

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