The West Hollywood City Council has voted unanimously to build its long-anticipated civic center project on the city's western edge in West Hollywood Park.
The civic center, which is expected to contain a City Hall, library, fire station, auditorium, public meeting rooms and parking garage, will exceed 215,000 square feet and could cost as much as $25 million.
The council also moved to accommodate civic activists who wanted the project built on the East Side of the city, pledging to locate new social service, recreation and other facilities at two sites there.
Several council members said they had originally favored civic center sites elsewhere in the city, but were persuaded that West Hollywood Park was the best available location by research done by the project's consultant, the firm of deBretteville and Ployzoides.
"I didn't feel this way at the start, but West Hollywood Park seems to be the best option we have," said Councilman John Heilman, who originally preferred a proposed site at a Southern California Rapid Transit District depot on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Proximity to Services
The West Hollywood Park site, on San Vicente Boulevard near Melrose Avenue, was favored by the civic center consultants--and ultimately, by the council--because of its proximity to bus routes, its long frontage on a major thoroughfare and its cost. The city will not incur any major land purchase costs because the park is owned by the city and Los Angeles County.
The park site won out over 18 other locations researched by the civic center consultants. "We found that the park was the best fit to the city's needs," said Peter deBretteville. "It had a much higher rating than any of the other (sites). Even if you ignored the cost factors, it would have scored the highest."
Mayor Stephen Schulte, who came to favor the park site, said he had been concerned that the city's sense of community might be fragmented with a civic center on its western edge.
Locating public buildings throughout the city would mitigate that concern, deBretteville said. "The city doesn't get its character from just one building," he said.
Several business owners and residents from the East Side made a last-ditch attempt to persuade the council to opt for an East Side civic center. "Putting the civic center there would really elevate the east end of town," said James Ward Litz, an East Side resident and a member of the city's Public Facilities Board.
Other Impact Suggested
And Schulte wondered aloud whether the 100 or more people who would work in a new City Hall, fire station, library and other facilities might not help small businesses in the immediate vicinity by shopping and dining near their jobs.
But deBretteville cautioned that a civic center would not help much in revitalizing the East Side. "It appears, in the long run, that a city hall would not have that great an economic impact," he said, adding that commercial projects would play a much more important role in renewing the East Side.
While council members agreed with deBretteville's choice of West Hollywood Park, they made clear their intentions to build new facilities on the East Side as well.
Councilwoman Helen Albert won support from other council members when she suggested that the city attempt to purchase a Los Angeles elementary school site on the East Side to house city agencies.
"I'd like to see a place that would be more available to seniors and more centrally located in the city," Albert said.
The council members voted unanimously to explore the possibility of buying the school site and also constructing new city buildings at Plummer Park, not far from the city's eastern border.
The council members also said they would decide by August which services and facilities will be located in each of the three sites.