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California Endowment May Build Near Union Station

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of the nation’s largest health-care foundations said Tuesday it is exploring the construction of a new 100,000-square-foot headquarters complex in downtown Los Angeles near historic Union Station.

The Woodland Hills-based California Endowment, which is backed with $3.7 billion in assets, said it is also considering leasing existing downtown office space as an alternative to building a new, $30-million structure on the grounds of Union Station. A decision is expected to be made by late spring or early summer, according to foundation President and Chief Executive Robert Ross.

“The level of interest is high,” said Ross. “We are talking about a facility that would complement and support the ongoing revitalization activities in the Union Station area.”

Ross said the foundation wants a more central location closer to the low-income neighborhoods it serves as well as to its heath-care partners and grantees.

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The California Endowment was formed in 1996 when the former nonprofit Blue Cross of California became part of for-profit WellPoint Health Networks Inc. The foundation makes grants to health-care providers serving low-income patients as part of its goal to expand access to quality and affordable health care.

The foundation and its 140 employees are currently located in 45,000 square feet of space located near the former Blue Cross headquarters in Thousand Oaks. The larger downtown offices would accommodate expansion as well as provide space for organizations sponsored by the endowment, Ross said.

Ross said the endowment is currently negotiating with the owners of Union Station--San Francisco-based Catellus Development Corp.--about building a low-rise headquarters on the property. People familiar with the negotiations say the California Endowment is interested in a parking lot near the intersection of Alameda Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue.

The Union Station property is already home to the offices of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District.

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Officials from Catellus could not be reached for comment.


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