County seeks a cure to revive General Hospital

The old General Hospital in Boyle Heights boasts a commanding hilltop home with about a  million-square feet of space, a central location near freeways and an iconic Moderne-style facade instantly recognizable to millions of  “General Hospital” soap opera fans. But the 19-floor hospital built in 1933 has remained virtually empty since a new, 600-bed replacement hospital opened next door in late 2008.  Some have suggested that the Depression-era complex could be turned into everything from housing to an indoor mall to a cultural center.  However, Los Angeles County, which owns the building, has faced a few setbacks to fill up the building and adjacent grounds – even with offers of free rent.

Nearly 18 months ago, for example, the office of County Supervisor Gloria Molina announced it was pursing plans to create a nearly 114,000-square-foot biotechnology incubator for start-up firms on the second floor of the hospital.  The incubator, operated by Momentum L.A., would be operated under a 10-year-long, free lease.  But an official affiliated with Momentum L.A. recently told The Eastsider that “There is no news just yet.”

Meanwhile,  the county had also been negotiating with the Los Angeles Community College District to build a Health Career Academy on surplus hospital property that the county would lease at no charge. But, in August, the county ended the discussions after the college district had failed to raise the necessary funds.

County officials have not given up on General Hospital. In the most recent effort to find tenants, the county has proposed turning the hospital’s first floor – which includes an auditorium, meeting space, kitchens and cafeteria – into a wellness center leased free of charge to nonprofits. A request for proposals describes The Wellness Center Project:

Together, we intend to honor the history of “healing” at the Historic General Hospital by utilizing the first floor of the former hospital – and eventually its upper
19 floors ‐ as a common space area where like‐minded nonprofits can coordinate wellness programming, share knowledge and best practices and strengthen collaborative efforts to combat epidemic levels of obesity, stroke, hypertension, cancer and other long term chronic diseases for the East Los Angeles community and Medical Center patients.

The proposed wellness center seems to have generated a lot of interest. Nearly 30 tenants submitted proposals by the Oct. 1 deadline, said Roxane Marquez, a spokeswoman for Molina’ office. It’s not clear how much it will cost to make an needed improvements since tenants have not been selected, Marquez said.   “We are in the middle of vetting everybody and figuring out who will ultimately get to use that space.”


  1. This is why nothing of any value will happen, it’s owned by the county, private enterprise would turn this building into condo’s in seconds.

  2. @ Mr silverlake ,
    Just what this city needs more condos, haha ur joking this would be better suited as a school or a mixed use def enough condos in this town not enough trade schools or community collages.

  3. No one is going to buy a condo in a building where thousands upon thousands of people have died, just look at the Linda Vista project on the other side of Boyle Heights. Plus its a old concrete building that needs a ton of earthquake retro fitting. Demo it and start new.

  4. I think the perfect use for this building would be to offer low income housing so when the gang members, drug addicts and illegal aliens move in and the homeless set up their tent city around the perimeter of the building it’ll be a short, easy trek to County-USC.

    At the very least we’ll save on fuel for all the Ambulances, right?

  5. I have never heard of the old General Hospital being located in Boyle Heights. I don’t think it is even close to it. It used to be considered being in a part of East L A. How did it become “Boyle Heights”? I am 78 yrs, born & raised in L A and think I should know. Please explain…

  6. As beautiful as they are. these early 20th century concrete buildings are under-reinforced and not appropriate for a school, much less housing.

    If I recall, the LA Weekly had a story a few years back on these early concrete buildings. According to that story, Building & Safety maintains an undisclosed list of such buildings which they believe will fail in a major earthquake.

  7. Whao I remember working in the General Hospital during high school as a candy striper. To see it deserted like this is sad I agree with Carole as I also born and raised in East L.A always knew it as a part of East L. A. a school sounds greeat as ya condos ha who knows what would come out of the walls.

  8. @Carole. General Hospital is absolutely in Boyle Heights, there’s a sighn across the street that days Boyle heights, it’s zip code is 90033, it’s in LA city, east LA is LA county which starts a couple of miles east of the location. Don’t believe me check google maps. We learn something new everyday.

  9. Just to clarify, la city is in la county and la county ran the facility but the building resides in LA city’s Boyle heights neighborhood which is sometimes refered to as east la however the actal east LA (unincorporated la county) is further east.

    • You’re absolutely right, east L. A. Begins east of Indiana street. The County runs facilities such as jails and hospitals within the City.

  10. I don’t get why they are offering free rent to everyone. Isn’t the county short on funds just like everyone else?

  11. @ DJ Bento Box,
    Jaded cynicism is so out.

  12. Homeless people! Ha ha!
    People without heath care! Zing!

  13. Honestly, walking in that hospital is like taking a trip back in time. From the original fixture ORs to equipment and layout, it is a gem. I honestly would take the time to turn it into a museum and have ex employees give tours. There are many people that are curious about the building and what occurred during its long history.

    However, we do live in earthquake country, so when the new building falls, we will eventually go back to the old one that has withstood the test of time!

    • I was fortunate enough to do my first semester clinical rotation for nursing in the old building, right before the transfer. This building is indeed full of history and I think the idea of having it as a museum is awesome. it is such a fascinating place. I never got to see the jail ward but would love to walk through there. Empty as it stands now is pretty creepy, gives you the creeps walking through the upper levels to find the one office that is still being used on that entire floor. I’m pretty sure the place is haunted. I hope it is retrofitted, its a historic monument and should not be torn down.

    • I dearly LOVE this old hospital. I would gladly pay for a tour and I hope it can be turned into a museum.

  14. Everyone is missing the point here. They are not developing the space for people to live in. These are OFFICE SPACES for NON-PROFITS. I think it’s great that non-profits will be able to use these spaces rent free. They are providing valuable services for the entire community. They are trying to transform the place. It’s unusable as a hospital, might as well put it to good use as another use. Everyone is so negative

  15. I was a med student there 30 years ago, both of my grandparents died there. It’s an art deco monolith of the suffering poor and haunted by a guy named Tony Gun ( he died in C booth)

  16. I would love to take a tour of this hospital..they should leave this hospital as is and give tours..maybe just update the codes. Nothing to fancy and leave it so creepy

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *