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LOS ANGELES : $153.5 Million OKd for City Hall Seismic Work

The City Council has approved spending $153.5 million for seismic work and repair of earthquake damage at City Hall, although leasing or building a comparable edifice would cost less.

Council members said the restoration is justified because the 66-year-old building is the historic seat of municipal government and the city’s most recognizable landmark.

“It’s a great symbol of our city government and of our city as a whole,” said Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky. “I wish we could do it for cheaper. I hope it’s going to be kept to this cost.”

The price tag for refurbishing City Hall disturbed some council members because project managers initially pegged it at $92 million.

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The three-year project will entail seismic upgrades, quake-related repairs, safety improvements such as automatic sprinklers and new fire exit stairwells, a modernized electrical system and a new fueling station in the garage.

Numerous cracks appeared in stairwells and the upper floors after the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake. In the tower walls, people can see through the cracks, said officials who toured the upper floors.

The restoration work will force employees in offices above the fourth floor to relocate. City Engineer Robert S. Horii recommended moving workers out of the 11th through 27th floors immediately, with the rest following once the major seismic work begins in March.


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