The removal of both the Hall of Adminstration and the Courthouse needs to happen if the civic center is to be developed to its full potential.
Troy Anderson, Staff WriterLA Daily News
Los Angeles County supervisors took the second step Tuesday to repair or relocate the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration building by approving a $200,000 contract to study the space needs among seven proposals.
Although the original plan indicated the preferred site for a new county hall would be a parking lot slated for construction as part of the $1.8 billion Grand Avenue project, Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen instead asked for more study.
The proposal is part of the renewed interest in establishing Grand Avenue as a world-class focal point for the city. The project calls for redeveloping 25 acres around the Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring high-rises, shops, restaurants, a hotel, condos and a large park between the county Music Center and City Hall. Officials are considering demolishing the county hall and nearby courthouse to provide even more space for the park.
At the request of Stanley Mosk Courthouse officials, the county is now reviewing options to relocate the courthouse to a site at Grand and First Street. Although there are no funds budgeted for the project, an estimated cost for a new courthouse is $513 million.
"It's certainly better to plan a park knowing what the size of its footprint is than not knowing," said Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. "Up until now, that has been one of the greatest challenges, the future of those buildings."
Still, there are preservation issues posed by the demolition of those buildings, Kaplan said.
"Some people are fond of the facades and think there are architectural elements worth keeping for Los Angeles heritage," he said. "But without those buildings there, there are all kinds of sight lines opened up from within the park, and you have lots more opportunities to be bold about how you use the space."
The county hall project is expected to be financed with a combination of surplus county funds, insurance settlements and long-term financing bonds.
The building has become an "outmoded, inefficient" structure since its opening in 1960, and its operational expenses far exceed the costs of newer, more efficient buildings, Janssen said.
A series of earthquakes, especially the 1994 Northridge quake, significantly damaged the building, which architects have described as having a "reticent" feel to it.
And while the building is expected to withstand another sizable earthquake, the facility's 2,481 employees would need to be evacuated while repairs are made at an estimated cost of $35 million. Janssen said it would be cheaper to build a smaller, more efficient county hall than to relocate staff and repair the existing facility.
"The end I'm on, I understand, is the worst part," Janssen said. "(Supervisor) Don (Knabe) and I are going to go down the hill in the next earthquake."
Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985
Here are the seven options that supervisors are considering for the county Hall of Administration:
A hall at the state building site, plus a separate, lower-cost building for tax and finance departments in Chinatown, $187 million.
A hall at the parking lot site plus a separate finance building in Chinatown, $187 million.
Retrofit of the historic Hall of Justice building, $215 million.
A hall at a county parking lot that's part of the Grand project, $221 million.
Construction of new hall on site of former state building, $223 million.
A hall at the Los Angeles County Law Library site and a separate finance building, $271 million.
Seismic and interior retrofit of existing hall, $274 million.