Parker Center, home to police dramas real and fictional, comes nearer to demolition

The Parker Center, the iconic building that housed Los Angeles police operations for nearly 60 years, before an official ceremony closing its doors on Jan. 15, 2013.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Parker Center, the famed Los Angeles Police Department headquarters known for its roles in both cop shows and real-life dramas, is taking another step toward demolition.

The city’s Bureau of Engineering will hold a meeting Wednesday, inviting interested contractors to an information-outreach event to discuss the scope of work for the demolition of Parker Center.

The council approved the demolition of Parker Center so it can be replaced with a 27-story office tower for city employees as part of a larger redevelopment plan for the Civic Center area. The city has earmarked $10 million in bond money to help pay for its destruction.


In voting for its removal, the council also decided against naming Parker Center a historic-cultural monument, despite the Cultural Heritage Commission recommending the move.

Parker Center, which opened in the 1950s, has been mostly empty since 2009, when the LAPD moved to a new building several blocks away. It was designed by Welton Becket, who also designed the Capitol Records building, the Music Center and Cinerama Dome.

The building was made nationally famous on the Jack Webb police drama “Dragnet’’ and was used in many other television series and films. Huizar, whose 14th Council District includes the Civic Center, proposed the redevelopment plan. He cited the building’s ties to the department’s past struggles with racial discrimination as a primary reason he voted against the historical designation.

The building was originally known as the Police Facilities Building. In 1969, it was named after former Chief William H. Parker, the chief from 1950 until his death in 1966. Allegations of racial discrimination by police and abuse against the black community are part of Parker’s legacy, which included the 1965 Watts Riots.

After four LAPD officers were acquitted in 1992 of assault in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King, riots broke out across the city and Parker Center was targeted by protesters who set fire to a parking kiosk and threw rocks at the building. Despite the negative history, the Los Angeles Conservancy had argued for the preservation of the building, with supporters saying the city cannot preserve only positive history, but council members were too moved by its connection to the department’s darker past.

Huizar’s office estimated that tearing Parker Center down and building the new office tower will cost $483 million, but the overall cost of the entire plan is still being developed. Key elements from Parker Center, including a mural and a sculpture, will be included in the new design.