Parker Center, the longtime headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department and a lightning rod for controversy, is set to meet with the wrecking ball later this month.
The Rafu Shimpo reports that demolition is scheduled to begin on August 20 for the eight-story structure at 150 N. Los Angeles Street at a cost of $16.7 million and proceed over the course of roughly 500 days. A report last month by the City's Chief Administrative Officer estimated that demolition is expected to conclude by the end of 2019.
Demolition of the 1950s structure, originally known as the Police Administrative Building, will clear the way for the City of Los Angeles to construct a new civic office tower in its place. The 27-to-29-story building, rising as tall as 450 feet in height, will contain more than 750,000 square feet of offices atop ground-floor commercial space and basement parking for nearly 1,200 vehicles. A timeline for the proposed tower, which has seen its cost estimates swell to nearly $700-million, has not been set.
The demolition of Parker Center will mark an end to a long debate over the building's future, which pitted preservationists against civil rights advocates and members of the Little Tokyo community. The Los Angeles Conservancy had fought to landmark Parker Center, citing its prominent role in the history of Southern California as well as its notable architect Welton Becket, while opponents of landmark cast the building as emblematic of an era in which discriminatory and abusive policing was condoned in minority communities. Much of the blame for those policies has been laid at the feet of the building's namesake - former LAPD Chief William H. Parker.
Parker Center, as well as a handful of other municipal facilities that flank the building, was constructed on land that formerly composed part of Little Tokyo's commercial core. Due to the numerous residents, businesses, and cultural institutions that were displaced by eminent domain for the former police headquarters, it has widely been viewed with contempt, and the only acceptable outcome to many in Little Tokyo is the building's demolition.
Preservation efforts were ultimately defeated in a climactic vote by the Los Angeles City Council in February 2017, which saw Parker Center denied Historic-Cultural Monument status, clearing the way for demolition.
Though the issue was settled more than a year ago, a last-ditch effort to preserve the building as a homeless shelter was launched by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in May of this year. AHF has announced its intent to pursue a citywide ballot measure to build support for the idea, though the organization's President Michael Weinstein has admitted that the measure would not be legally binding, even if it did pass. With demolition set to commence in August, that purely ceremonial effort will likely be rendered moot.
In the long-term, the redevelopment of Parker Center is the first step in a new master plan for the Civic Center, which looks to invigorate the sterile district of government offices with residents and pedestrian-oriented commercial space.
- Parker Center Archive (Urbanize LA)