The city of Los Angeles would swap 4.8 acres of its land near the entrance to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills for a 110-acre addition to Griffith Park, under a recommendation sent to the City Council last week.
"The primary purpose of the exhange is to acquire a major land addition to Griffith Park and to provide Junior Achievement with a site for the construction of a 22,000-square-foot headquarters and training center," according to a report approved unanimously by the Recreation and Parks Commission.
James Hadaway, parks department general manager, described the exchange as "a major step toward realizing the department's long-term goal of providing a Griffith Park trail route across the Hollywood Hills."
Overlooking the city of Burbank, the 110 acres that the city would receive under the proposal are owned by Forest Lawn but are never used for burials. The undeveloped land lies above the cemetery and has been appraised at $800,000, Hadaway said.
Richard Lawrence, director of development for Junior Achievement of Los Angeles County, said Forest Lawn had agreed to give up its property to help the youth organization. He said the cemetery also stands to get a tax break and would get rid of an eyesore at its entrance.
Hadaway explained that the 4.8 acres have become a "chronic eyesore and maintenance problem to the department due to illegal trash dumping." The city property, valued at $225,000, is an unused, triangular parcel on Forest Lawn Drive. It was acquired by the Recreation and Parks Department in 1927 but was cut off from other parkland after construction of the Ventura Freeway.
Junior Achievement proposes to build a $3.7-million, one-story building on the site to serve as its Los Angeles headquarters, which is now in an old building in North Hollywood. The facility also will be used as the training headquarters for more than 3,400 volunteers from business and education who teach business enterprise to more than 30,000 youths each year in the Los Angeles area, Lawrence said.
Junior Achievement is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.
No date has been set for the headquarters building to start, he said, adding that the organization must first raise money for its construction.
The exchange is supported by Councilman John Ferraro, who gained the area in last year's council redistricting, and by Councilman Joel Wachs, who previously represented the area.