It’s been a decade since El Centro Del Pueblo, a large social services agency in Echo Park, converted a former public parking lot south of Sunset Boulevard into an outdoor recreation center adjacent to its Lemoyne Street headquarters. The conversion triggered some contentious debate as many residents and businesses worried about the loss of Lot No. 676 (outlined above in red) on Echo Park’s Sunset Boulevard retail strip. Since then, parking in the area has grown in short supply as nightclubs – such as The Echo – and new shops and restaurants have opened. But the outdoor recreation center – complete with handball courts – has also proved a popular and busy play area. Now, El Centro, after leasing the property from the city since 2000, wants to buy the land outright.
Last week, the office of Councilman Eric Garcetti introduced a motion instructing city staff to come up with a recommendation “to enable the
purchase of City-owned Department of Transportation Lot No. 676 at fair market value.” El Centro, which owns several other buildings on the block, started leasing the former lots at $750 a month but the rate was to be adjusted every two years, according to the City Council motion. It’s not clear how much El Centro pays now but, according to the city motion, the agency “would prefer to own the property rather than continue to make lease payments” and plans to continue to use the lot for “recreational and public purposes.”
How much is that land worth? The city’s Chief Administrative Officer was given 60 days to come back with a recommendation.