U.S. Will Rebuild Burned-Down Enlistment Station in South L.A.

TIME STAFF WRITER

Federal officials are no longer considering relocating a military enlistment station out of South Los Angeles and now say they are committed to rebuilding the facility, which burned down during the riots, in the area.

Department of Defense officials had considered rebuilding outside the city, partly because they considered the area too dangerous.

Al DelliBovi, co-chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Los Angeles Recovery, announced Wednesday that the enlistment station will remain in South Los Angeles. DelliBovi said he just received a commitment from the Department of Defense to rebuild in the area, although it has not yet been determined if the station will be rebuilt at the same site or at another location.

A senior Bush Administration official said task force officials pressured the Department of Defense to keep the facility in the area after recognizing that moving it outside the city "would send a terrible signal" to Los Angeles.

The initial plan to move the station prompted criticism from many city leaders. They said federal officials, who had encouraged investors to rebuild in riot-ravaged areas, should show more of a commitment to Los Angeles.

"This is an important decision on many levels," said Deputy Mayor Linda Griego, who met with DelliBovi Wednesday. "Symbolically . . . it sends the right message to businesses considering investing in the area. And it's an important facility for the area because it provides a lot of jobs and generates income."

After the enlistment station burned down, the owners of the building, who are fully insured, offered to construct a temporary facility within a few weeks and rebuild the structure within eight months. But the offer was rejected by the General Services Administration, which handles real estate transactions for the federal government, according to Allan Davidov, one of the owners.

Before the riots, federal officials said, they had discussed moving the enlistment station. The facility was too small, needed design changes and was not centrally located in the recruiting area, they said. In addition, according to a federal official, the area was "an unsafe environment."

As a result, officials were considering moving the station to a site east of Los Angeles.

The move could have eventually meant the loss of about 500 jobs in South Los Angeles. The enlistment station, a Department of Defense facility, is the headquarters for screening and induction of all military recruits in nine California counties.

Adjacent to the station, which employs about 80 people, is an undamaged two-story brick building that houses the Southern California recruiting headquarters for the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines. Federal officials had said they were seeking a site that could house both the enlistment station and recruiting headquarters.

"I'm glad the military changed their minds," said Lloyd Johnson, a chairman of the Baldwin Neighborhood Homeowners Assn. "I don't think they realized how important it was that they stay in the area. The move to stay is a step in the right direction. Now I hope they decide to rebuild on the site that was burned. Our neighborhood needs them."

Times staff writer Douglas Jehl contributed to this report.

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