Monday, October 24, 2016

Highland Park may get its own City Hall after a decade of delays


The Highland Park City Hall would be located in the former Security Trust & Savings Bank | Google Map


HIGHLAND PARK — The residents of Highland Park may one day be able to fight City Hall without having to travel Downtown. After a decade of delays and a legal battle, a plan to convert a former bank building on Figueroa into Highland Park City Council is once again moving ahead.

A motion introduced by First District Councilman Gil Cedillo earlier this year would allocate $500,000 to start planning the conversion of the vacant, two-story Renaissance Revival at the corner of Figueroa and Avenue 56  into a government resource center. It so happens that the robust 1920s-era brick and concrete structure – a city historic landmark – was designed by the same architectural firm that worked on the iconic L.A. City Hall as well as Union Station.

The 11,500-square-foot structure, which is owned by the City of Los Angeles and is mostly used for film shoots, features a granite and marble interior and was formerly home to the Highland Park branch of the Security Trust & Savings Bank.

Cedillo introduced a motion in May asking city staff to amend the mayor’s proposed budget for 2014-2015, to include $500,000 to cover the design costs of the new multi-year project, which would include the project scope, timeline and budget. Plans for what’s been called the Highland Park City Hall proejct remain conceptual, but Cedillo’s office is awaiting a report from the Budget and Finance Committee that will determine the funding of the project, said Cedillo’s spokesperson, Louis Reyes.

Reyes said the building, which is located across the street from the Council District 1 field office, needs to be cleaned up and brought up to code and the $500,000 requested, would be the first step to begin the project.

The effort to convert the former bank building into the Highland Park City Hall began a decade ago under former Councilman Ed Reyes. The city offered to buy the building in 2004 for $1.6 million but the owner refused, prompting the city to begin the process of taking control of the property through eminent domain. That triggered a lawsuit that was resolved in 2009 when the city signed off on a $750,000 settlement, according to city documents.

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.

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  1. The entire budget for the Figueroa Street road diet: $250,000.

    The cost of a single curb ramp: $1,500.

    Cost of a continental style crosswalk: $2,500.

    Cost to install a stop sign: one dead neighbor (minimum).

    Cost for design work on a two story commercial building: $500,000 (!!!!).

    WTF. How can this be so expensive? It should be $10 to $25k maximum. Maybe a little extra for a bunch of community outreach. Who is going to get that contract? Turning that building around, if it were a commercial property, would take, what? $150k to $200k total?!

    • I hear it’s pretty messed up inside, particularly the upstairs. But I agree that we should be watching Cedillo’s actions and scrutinizing contracts etc. very closely.

      • That is what is crazy to me: this isn’t money for actual work on the building – it is money for design, scheduling, probably community outreach. Soft costs on what is likely going to become a gilded goose egg of a project.

    • Perhaps they can store a bunch of stop signs for rapid response when peds/bikers get crushed. They’ll need a few extra if those goofballs who are trying to petition to get rid of bikelanes on York get their way. Perhaps they could have a special pile of stop signs just for Figueroa fatalities.

  2. Hopefully whatever transpires at this location will maintain the integrity of the historic building. I’m totally looking forward to Councilman Cedillo completing this project for the betterment of Highland Park.

  3. Latin Jazz Fest headquarters?

  4. Are you kidding? $500,000$$$$!!!!! Just for conceptual! Who is getting this contractor reporter? Crickets. Is it open bid…..it is our money that is being spent after all.. It is great that some action is being taken but what is the projected total costs?

    Also the conceptual should be shared publically while in this stage. Any interior structural changes need to go through HPOZ Review board . The original interior upstairs should remain intact.

  5. Bike Lane Enthusiast

    A better use for this would be an overnight bicycle storage facility for the eventual closure of Figueroa Street from York to San Fernando Road. We understand that some seniors and “disabled” people oppose it, but there are alternative arrangements that can be made for them, such as travelling alternate routes or relocation to areas where more sedentary and undesirable people live. Lancaster and Palmdale come to mind.

  6. I think the majority of Highland Park residents would rather see this building put to use as a community space rather than the offices of the councilman. Don’t the residents get a say in this?

  7. “The city boffered to buy the building in 2004…but the owner refused.” I love this new verb. I assumed it means to make an offer that bombs.

  8. 500K ??? I guarantee the flippers that are flipping these abandoned, eye sore, single family homes all over highland park can do this for half of that budget. Red flags all over this.

  9. “After a decade of delays and a legal battle, a plan to convert a former bank building on Figueroa into Highland Park City Council is once again moving ahead.” I think the author meant to write “former bank building on Figueroa into Highland Park City HALL, not City COUNCIL, as it wouldn’t make very much sense for HLP to have its own City Council. But why are we talking today about a motion Cedillo made months ago? What happened lately? Nothing. This story seems like a like it came straight from Louis Reyes in an effort to try and improve the image of his boss.

  10. Well, it does sound like a placed/planted story; Eastsider readers do love some authentic restorations! But, in terms of timing, it also sounds like the decision from the Budget and Finance Committee is imminent. I’m skeptical that Eric Garcetti and BFC would greenlight Gil “Boss Tweed” Cedillo’s own private Tammany Hall.** BUT, if it was packaged up as a “restoration project” to be turned into a “government resource center”–and they weren’t already onto Gil Cedillo’s shady tricks–it might just pass. If only Gloria Molina were game to take down Gil Cedillo, too. Or even better, if there were more ambitious candidates on this side of town who prioritized community over wasting city money to embolden their own pitiful egos.

    **I.e., instead of a swell of Irish immigrant votes in NYC in the mid-1800s, Cedillo is working the Mexican vote in LA today for his own political personal gain.

  11. No one should be astonished at the $500,000 budget figure when they find out that the likely source of the cost estimate was the City’s own Bureau of “Engineering”. Seems like every estimate prepared by the BOE ends up at least twice what it ought to cost in the private sector. The City’s outrageous pension and overhead costs really make almost any project more attractive if it were competitively bid. But then there is the problem of Cedillo’s penchant for filthy back room deals and no-bid contracting to incompetent private contractors. Either way, the taxpayers are screwed.

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