Apartment Complex Renovation to Begin

Rehabilitation of a Blythe Street apartment complex where for years residents endured some of the Valley's worst slum conditions is set to begin any day.

The city will probably issue a notice today calling for demolition to begin at the site, said Ruperto Albelda, community housing programs manager for the Los Angeles Housing Department.

One of four apartment houses will be torn down, and asbestos will be removed in those that remain, said Oswaldo Lopez, president of Sierra Pacific Land Co. of Los Angeles, which will conduct the demolition.

Lopez said he expects the process to take about three weeks to complete.

Sierra Pacific will then begin renovating the remaining three apartment houses.

The project has been seen as an important sign of renewal on Blythe Street, where drug dealing and violence led the Los Angeles city attorney in 1993 to obtain a civil injunction against gangs in the area.

Residents of the run-down complex, which now stands vacant and is surrounded by a chain-link fence, were relocated to nearby housing in December.

The work was originally set to start last month, said Angelina Casillas, project director for Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, a nonprofit social service agency that organized the rehabilitation effort. But, she said, "It takes a while to get permits [and conduct] contract negotiations."

The overhaul, funded by a $3.1-million loan to Hermandad, which the Los Angeles City Council approved in August, will last until December, Casillas said.

The number of units at the complex will shrink from 56 to 32. Residents filled only 32 apartments when the site was closed, so all the former residents will have the opportunity to move back in, Casillas said.

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