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L.A. is sued over planned demolition of Parker Center

L.A. is sued over planned demolition of Parker Center
Parker Center is slated to be torn down to make way for a $700-million office tower. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sued the city Wednesday in an attempt to halt the project. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sued the city of Los Angeles on Wednesday, alleging that the city’s plan to demolish Parker Center and build a $700-million downtown office tower for city workers on the site is a waste of taxpayer funds.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeks to halt the demolition of Parker Center, the former LAPD headquarters, and construction of the tower. The complaint alleges that the city’s plans “provide no public benefit.”

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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation wants the city instead to use Parker Center, currently vacant, for homeless housing.

A spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office declined comment on the lawsuit.

Led by City Councilman Jose Huizar, the council backed a plan last year to tear down the 1955 building named for controversial LAPD former Police Chief William Parker and build an office tower.

Officials say the tower, which would rise 27 to 29 stories, would provide centralized office space for Los Angeles city workers now based in other downtown buildings. The city could save money by then selling its unused office buildings or ending leases at sites it doesn’t own, officials said.

A city report estimates the costs of the tower at about $700 million. Adding in operations and maintenance costs for 30 years, and financing, the total price tag is estimated to be $915 million to $943 million, in current dollars.

Amid calls to preserve Parker Center and build the tower next door, city officials have repeatedly said that option would be more expensive than demolishing the building and putting up a tower. Critics have accused the city of using inaccurate cost estimates to justify knocking down Parker Center, which city officials deny.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s lawsuit cites a California statute that allows taxpayers to challenge expenditures of public funds they consider wasteful.

Section 526a of the California Code of Civil Procedure establishes the right to sue over “any illegal expenditure of, waste of, or injury to, the estate, funds, or other property of a county, town, city or city and county of the state.”

Separately, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced plans earlier this year to launch a ballot initiative that seeks to convert Parker Center into housing for homeless people.

The city plans to start demolishing the building this year and finish by December 2019, city officials have said.

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