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Gay-Lesbian Center Has New Facility

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Power tools are whining. Construction crews are hustling. Executives are hovering.

The signs of an imminent opening are everywhere at 1125 N. McCadden Place, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center’s new satellite.

The $6.7-million Hollywood complex, slated to open June 21, marks not only a major addition to center facilities, but an expanding role as well.

The center’s main building, less than a mile away, has been largely devoted to traditional social services such as legal counseling, a youth shelter and an HIV clinic. The new facility, called The Village at Ed Gould Plaza after a center benefactor, will function more as a social and cultural gathering spot.

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“It’s a final piece in building a holistic gay and lesbian center,” said center Executive Director Lorri L. Jean, who expects The Village to draw gay men and lesbians who have never had reason to visit the center on North Schrader Boulevard. There, she added, “We’ve always been focused on the more dire needs.”

In what center officials describe as a first-of-its-kind combination for a gay community organization, the new complex will house a 200-seat theater for movie screenings and town hall meetings, a 28-station computer lab, a coffeehouse, community rooms and a small art gallery.

A former post-production house purchased by the center in foreclosure, the complex has been renovated in a funky, industrial style of open wooden ceilings, bare cement floors and bright retro colors. The five buildings wrap around a central landscaped courtyard that will include seating for the coffeehouse.

To retain a sense of building history, empty film reels left behind by the previous occupants have been embedded in one wall. A sound-effects pit has been converted to display space.

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And in a playful homage to the Mann’s Chinese Theater forecourt not far away, gay celebrities will be able to leave their hand and foot prints in a cement strip running through The Village courtyard.

The complex also includes a copy center, where residents of the youth shelter will get training in digital document production and finishing, along with low-rent office space for gay community organizations such as Outfest, which stages the city’s annual gay film festival, and the Gay Asian Pacific Support Network.

“It’s not just a handout they’re giving us,” said Peter Corpus, co-chairman of the Asian Pacific network. “They’re really investing in our future. They’ve put some thought into this.”

Aside from cheap office space, Corpus’ organization and other small resident groups will receive fund-raising and management advice.

“All of that is one step to the center becoming a true community partnership and community mentor. I’m really pleased,” Corpus said. “We had high hopes for that building on Schrader . . . but it really never met our expectations as a place to gather and seek out help.”

The fund-raising campaign for the Schrader Boulevard building, opened in 1992, helped launch the center into a more ambitious financial orbit. Its annual operating budget has more than tripled to about $21 million, and the organization is in the midst of an effort to raise $15 million to pay for The Village and establish a $10-million endowment fund.


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