A proposal to redevelop the former site of Parker Center with a government office tower is going back to the drawing board.
In a vote taken yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to cancel the procurement process for its civic center office building at 150 N. Los Angeles Street. The currently vacant site, home to the LAPD for more than 50 years, was slated for the construction of a 27-story, 750,000-square-foot building with room for up to 3,200 employees.
Cancellation of the procurement process was recommended by a staff report from the City's Bureau of Engineering, which stated that the project "may no longer be in the best interest of the City."
While the recommendation is based on numerous issues, a dramatic increase in estimated construction and maintenance costs are two of the main contributing factors. The construction budget, estimated at just under $709 million in 2018, swelled to $743 million in a 2020 estimate. Likewise, the anticipated 30-year operation costs for the building, pegged at $573 million in 2018, are estimated at $987 million today.
Two years ago, the City had also planned to offset developments costs by selling the Public Works Building at 1149 S. Broadway and terminating its lease at the Garland Center in Westlake. However, the anticipated sales proceeds from the Public Works Building have since decreased, and completion of the unbuilt Los Angeles Street project would occur too late to coincide with the expiring lease at the Garland.
Compounding these factors is an impending budget deficit for the City, the result of decreased tax revenue during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. City Controller Ron Galperin issued a report in April anticipated a nearly $600-million decline in revenue during the coming fiscal year.
Despite the cancellation of the procurement process, the Bureau of Engineering still recommends the construction of an office building at the Parker Center site - but as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the Civic Center. A revised project could occur in phases, balancing city offices with a mix of residential, retail, and other commercial uses to off-set costs. This approach would be in line with the Civic Center Master Plan adopted in 2017.
The report also suggests moving forward with a traditional design-build project, rather than the public-private partnership previously proposed. Additional options for the Parker Center site include reducing the scale of the project and decreasing the amount of parking.
The cancellation of the procurement process is the latest twist in the Parker Center saga, a building made controversial by its namesake - former LAPD Chief William Parker - and the department's contentious history with underprivileged communities of color.
Despite these factors, preservationists fought unsuccessfully to save Parker Center from the wrecking ball, citing its importance to the City's history and its notable architect - Welton Becket. Preservation of the building was staunchly opposed by figures in the Little Tokyo community, which lost a significant portion of its original footprint to the former police headquarters. The building was ultimately denied landmark status by the City Council.
The redevelopment process, which was poised to begin this year, had attracted interest from several notable parties. Three teams made a short list of respondents to a request for information issued by the City of Los Angeles. Architecture firms SOM, Morphosis, Smith Group (with Renzo Piano Building Workshop) were attached to three separate different proposals.
- Parker Center (Urbanize LA)