Monday, October 24, 2016

Will Highland Park City Hall ever open?

The brick and tera cotta facade of the Pacific Savings

The vacant Security Trust & Savings Bank was purchased to become Highland Park City Hall

HIGHLAND PARK –– In 2007 the city used the power of eminent domain to force the owner of the Security Trust & Savings Bank building to sell the imposing but vacant structure for use as a Highland Park City Hall and constituent services center.  But the two-story building at the corner of Figueroa Street and Avenue 56 continued to remain vacant under city ownership. Now, as a result of letting the building sit dormant all these years, the city faces the possibility of being forced to offer back the historic monument to the owners.

State law requires that properties condemned under eminent domain be used for the intended purpose within 10 years or be offered back to the previous owner, according to a City Council motion introduced by Councilman Gil Cedillo.  That means that the Highland Park City Hall and constituent service center would have to be up and running within two years to meet the deadline. But that apparently is not going to happen.

It will take $16.5  million and four years of design and construction work to reopen the building, according information provided by Cedillo’s office. Not only has the city failed to allocate or approve that expenditure, the proposed construction timeline would mean the city would fail to meet the 10-year deadline, forcing it to give back the bank building to the owner.

What’s the city going to do? For the moment, the motion by Cedillo is seeking to extend the deadline by another decade.

Arturo Chavez with Councilman Cedillo’s office said that the main problem has been that funding was never secured to reopen the building after former Councilman Ed Reyes lead efforts to take control of the property. That issue “was not resolved by the previous councilmember,”  Chavez said in an email.

The building, constructed in the 1920s, needs a substantial amount of work, including the addition of bathrooms and an elevator that needs to be replaced, Chavez said. “The building is completely gutted upstairs and needs to be completely brought up to code,” he said.

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  1. I have lived here all my life (born in the 80’s) and have never seen that building open for business in any form other than filming. If it ever got restored it would really bring together that block of figueroa.

  2. $16.5 million to re-hab this building is outrageous.

    • Agreed, and the four-year time period seems equally nuts.

    • 17m is an investment in the community and Los Angeles, and over the life of the building will not be a significant amount of money.

      Eminent domain is a frustrating system – that this highlights. If Gill can’t get it together they need to release it to someone who can. We dont want to sit for another decade while the city council try to pull their collective thumbs out of their collective … assets.

      The purpose of ED is not for the government to accumulate abandoned buildings in perpetuity.

  3. Cedillo sure could save the day and be a real hero if his office could pull this one off! Come on, Gill! You know you can do it!

  4. I was born here to and can remember when it was used as a bank. My sister and mom were right out front during a bank robbery. Guys came out running and the die pack popped and colored money everywhere.

    Great building.

  5. This building would make an amazing gym. It would be cool to have a proper gym right on Fig.

  6. As I recall Gill promised during his campaign that he would put his offices upstairs which is intact as the wooden oak framed offices with the period doors are all there. Cone on Gil get it done!

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