Plan to Develop Vacant Police Station on Hold
Plans to convert a vacant police station built in 1926 in Highland Park into commercial offices and to build 30 adjoining retail stores have been suspended while Los Angeles city officials study the feasibility of using the landmark building as a community center.
Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre approved the study last week at the urging of about 30 Highland Park residents. The local activists, who represent civic and historical groups, had protested the proposed conversion, claiming that the community needs a meeting place more than a shopping center.
“I’m extremely pleased,” said Donna Harnsberger, president of the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce. “We’re desperate. We’re presently transients in our own community, and most of our organizations have no home.”
Alatorre’s decision suspends a previous plan to sell the 1.3-acre site to developer Maurice R. Chasse of Alhambra. In September, Alatorre endorsed a proposal submitted by Chasse to build 34,000 square feet of office and commercial space on the York Boulevard site, saying the project would inject new life into the area’s sleepy commercial district.
Chasse also offered to renovate the station’s basement for community use, but some residents said the basement would not be large enough to accommodate their needs.
Alatorre’s new plan calls for the city’s chief administrative officer to look at the cost of renovating the entire building for public use and to determine what money is available to do so. Robin Kramer, an Alatorre aide, said that just bringing the structure up to the earthquake-resistance standards of the building code will cost at least $500,000.
The station has been vacant since 1983, when the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Division moved to San Fernando Road near Atwater. Since then, film crews have often rented the building because of its old-fashioned jail cells and booking room.
Last year, anxious to preserve the building and put it back in use, the city began soliciting proposals for its renovation.
Chasse’s plan was selected over three others, including a proposal to convert the station to a live theater and another to turn the 60-year-old, red-brick building into a permanent film set.