City committee approves plan to overhaul Downtown LA’s Civic Center

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The Los Angeles City Council’s Entertainment and Facilities Committee approved on Tuesday a master plan for Downtown LA’s Civic Center that would dramatically reshape the area and ensure demolition of the historic Parker Center building, which served as LAPD headquarters from 1955 to 2009.

Last month, the Los Angeles City Council elected not to landmark the Parker Center building, citing its controversial history and close ties with the racial injustices of LA’s past. The master plan, which has been in the works since 2015, calls for the Welton Becket-designed building’s demolition—though some historical elements, including the recognizable exterior sculpture by Bernard J. Rosenthal, are set to be preserved.

The plan was proposed by Councilmember Jose Huizar, who represents the Downtown area, with the goal of reinvigorating the Civic Center and condensing city offices into one easily accessible public space. The plan calls for at least 1.2 million square feet of new office space, with most of it included in developments proposed for the sites now occupied by the Parker Center and the Los Angeles mall.

The Parker Center would be replaced with a 27-story structure set to include around 713,000 square feet of office space, along with 37,000 square feet of street-level retail.

Map of city office buildings around Downtown LA
The Civic Center Master Plan seeks to consolidate city offices in one central location.
City of Los Angeles

A second office tower would be constructed at the site of the Los Angeles Mall, where one can currently find City Hall power players chowing down on chicken plates and sandwiches from Quizno’s. The project would include 545,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail, and 80,000 square feet of flex space.

But office space isn’t all that the master plan calls for. It also proposes that the city partner with private entities to redevelop two administrative buildings as a mix of housing, retail, and hotel space. As the report notes, these projects will “help activate the area” after city employees go home for the day.

Rendering of Civic Center built outRendering of Civic Center built outCity of Los Angeles

The plan additionally calls for easier access between the Civic Center and the neighboring Little Tokyo community. In its final stage, the James K. Hahn City Hall East building would be demolished and replaced with a public courtyard. This would bring more open space to the area and clear a view corridor to help refocus the Civic Center around City Hall.

All these changes would be rolled out gradually, with the current timeline calling for the master plan to be complete by 2032. The first step in the process will be the redevelopment of the Parker Center site, which could start as early as this year.

Now approved by the Entertainment and Facilities Committee, the plan will go before the full City Council on Wednesday.

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