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L.A. to Study Turning Medical Center Into Community Building

Times Staff Writer

The city of Los Angeles should consider purchasing the embattled Lake View Terrace Medical Center for use as a community building now that plans have been dropped to house the Nancy Reagan Center for drug rehabilitation there, Councilman Ernani Bernardi said Tuesday.

Under a motion introduced by Bernardi, the city administrative officer will prepare a report within 30 days that examines the possibility of turning the building at 11600 Eldridge Avenue into a multipurpose city service center.

Bernardi suggested that the building is big enough to be used for a senior citizen center, a Police Department substation, a branch library, public auditorium, child- care center and local city administrative office.

The motion was referred by the City Council to its Finance and Revenue Committee.

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Up in the Air

The future use of the building, which housed the Lake View Terrace Medical Center until the hospital’s 1986 bankruptcy, was thrown up in the air Friday when Nancy Reagan announced that she was withdrawing support from the drug treatment center that was to bear her name.

For more than a year, nearby residents had protested the center, fearing that it would decrease property values and attract crime and drugs to their neighborhood of single-family homes.

Reagan dropped her support after her staff met with several area residents. She said she “respects the concerns of the neighborhood.”

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Phoenix House, the nonprofit organization that was to have operated the center, formally withdrew its $7.7-million bid to purchase the center on Tuesday, spokeswoman Pamela Powell said.

“Now that the deal is dead, I think we are in a great position to use it for a community center for this fast-growing area of the Valley,” Bernardi said.

The idea to transform the defunct hospital into a community center is not new. Bernardi said he had first heard such sentiments expressed at community meetings a year ago. Jules S. Bagneris III, who unsuccessfully ran against Bernardi in the April primary, also heavily promoted the idea during his campaign.

Indicated Interest

Several other organizations have indicated interest in the hospital since Phoenix House first bid on it last spring, but none are now in line to make an offer on the property, said Rick Seidenwurm, the attorney who represents investors in the hospital before it went bankrupt.

Seidenwurm said he, along with the court-appointed bankruptcy attorney, will review new bids and present the one that appears most viable to a federal bankruptcy judge for review, as was done in May, 1988, with Phoenix House’s bid.

“We welcome the city’s interest in it; it would be a sensible way to go,” Seidenwurm said Tuesday. “It’s encouraging. . . . We need some hope right now.”

A year ago, the Los Angeles County tax assessor set the property’s value at nearly $15 million.

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