New police station lifts spirits in Boyle Heights
First, a brand new high school. Now, a new police station.
Change is coming to Boyle Heights, and the neighborhood and police threw a party Saturday night to celebrate the arrival of the luminous police station, a $31-million, state-of-the-art building at 2111 E. 1st St.
Hundreds of residents joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief William J. Bratton for the dedication. A mariachi band played. Old police cars were parked out front. And people lined up for tours.
“You can already see the change,” said Juana Alba, a 25-year Boyle Heights resident who showed up to meet her new neighbors. “I feel more calm and safe when I’m walking home.”
The 54,000-square-foot building replaces two other sites along 1st Street, both of which had grown overcrowded and outdated after years of use.
During three years of construction, Los Angeles Police Department patrol officers, detectives and staff crammed into a 15,000-square-foot site that once was a bank.
The new station will house about 300 personnel who will serve nearly 200,000 people over a 15.8-mile radius that covers Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and other neighborhoods. The building includes a community room, holding cell, a weight room and plenty of space for growth.
The project comes just a couple of months before the November opening of the Gold Line Eastside extension, which cuts through 1st Street.
After years of construction, Raj Bhakta hopes the upgrades will help sales at his nearby drug store.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “The area will be safe and the community will feel more comfortable going out.”
Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the area, sees the additions as the start of something bigger, a “rebirth.”
“Boyle Heights is finally getting its just due and not only recognizing its potential, but also realizing it,” he said.
Last month the neighborhood celebrated the opening of the $106-million Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center, one of the first new high schools built on the Eastside in many years. The campus is named after a Latino couple who fought segregation in schools during the 1940s.
The campus brings relief to families that until recently had little choice but to enroll students at Roosevelt High, an overcrowded campus.
Times staff writer Ruben Vives contributed to this report.