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County Selects Builder, OKs Financing for New Courthouse in Downey

March 19, 1987|JILL STEWART | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously selected Maaco Constructors to build the $18-million Municipal Courts building on the county's Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center land in Downey.

The supervisors also authorized the issuance of $25 million in certificates of participation to cover long-term financing for the four-story complex, which will replace the overcrowded court building on 3rd Street in Downey.

David Yonashiro of the county's chief executive office said the certificates to be sold by the county are similar to bonds.

Site South of Highway

County officials said the new courthouse will be constructed on vacant land in the southern section of the Rancho Los Amigos property which straddles Imperial Highway.

The facility will have seven courtrooms and two hearing rooms on an eight-acre site. Construction will begin in April and be completed in two years, county officials said.

Construction of the courthouse will end an eight-year effort by Supervisor Pete Schabarum to increase courtroom capacity in Downey. The existing courthouse is so crowded that jurors are headquartered in rented space at a nearby United Methodist Church, and must walk three blocks to the courthouse when called to a case.

"We've been working on this for years," said Tom Hibbard, a spokesman for Schabarum. "One of the primary discussions for quite some time was where it should be located, and then there were many discussions over . . . how we were going to pay for it."

The courthouse construction was delayed for several years while Schabarum and city officials argued over the best location for the new facility.

Downtown Idea Discarded

Downey city officials favored a downtown site close to the city's other municipal buildings. But Schabarum said it would have cost an extra $3.5 million to $4 million to buy a downtown parcel, while the county already owned the Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center land.

The county plans to consolidate the hospital's operations on land north of Imperial Highway over the next decade, allowing the county to build the courthouse and a business park in the southern sector, next to the existing county library headquarters.

County officials said financing for the courthouse also includes $100,000 for utility service connection costs and a $903,000 fund for future changes in work orders the county may need.

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