Culver City Redevelopment Agency Gives Final OK to Site for City Hall

Times Staff Writer

The Culver City Redevelopment Agency has given final approval to a site for a proposed $20-million city hall.

The 3.4-acre site, on the northeast corner of Culver Boulevard and Overland Avenue, was purchased from Goldrich and Kest Industries for $4.3 million in December, but the agency was given a Feb. 17 deadline on an option to pull out of the deal.

The new city hall would replace the 59-year-old city hall on Culver Boulevard and Duquesne Avenue.

Agency members Paul A. Jacobs, Richard Brundo and Jozelle Smith voted to approve the site, Chairman Richard M. Alexander opposed it and Vice Chairman Paul A. Netzel abstained. The proposal now must be approved by the City Council and Planning Commission.

Alexander, a longtime opponent of building a new city hall, said the proposed 62,700-square-foot project was too large, too expensive and would tie up agency funds for many years.

"We are locking ourselves into this site," he said. "That $20 million . . . basically precludes us from going into any other major project in redevelopment for as long as our (elective) terms will last--5 to 10 years."

A proposal to include new offices for the Culver City Unified School District, a Municipal Court and county health facility has been put on hold while county and school officials study ways to pay for their share of the construction costs. A Redevelopment Agency report said the court and health center would cost an additional $16.3 million, and school district offices would cost more than $3 million.

The county and school district have until May to decide whether to take part in the project, but officials are not optimistic.

"We just don't have the money" to build a new Municipal Court, said William Kreger, chief of asset management for the county.

Judges have complained that the existing Municipal Court at 4130 Overland Ave. lacks a jury room, a cafeteria and has inadequate parking. The judges have said they would like additional space for four more courtrooms and offices for two deputy district attorneys.

The school district, which receives its funding from the state, is in a similar predicament, said Supt. Curtis I. Rethmeyer.

The district's administration building at 4034 Irving Place was built in 1950 and is too small for its 40-member staff, Rethmeyer said. An annex, which houses planning and design staff, is an older, former apartment building that is expensive to maintain, he said. "We've got a couple of areas where people are practically sitting on each other," Rethmeyer said.

Relocating its offices in the proposed civic center would give the school district 15% to 20% more space, he said. However, since the district can't get funds from the state, its only alternative would be to sell the administration building, which is worth only $1.3 million, far less than the $3.2 million needed to pay for the district's share of construction costs for the proposed center, Rethmeyer said.

The district, he said, will ask its consultant to re-evaluate the administration building property and work with the Redevelopment Agency to try and reduce the district's share of the project's cost.

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