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Sale of Highland Park Station Near; More Police Considered

August 20, 1987|DENISE HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council has tentatively agreed to sell the landmark 1920s police station on York Boulevard in Highland Park to a developer who wants to renovate the red brick structure and build retail shops around it.

But a proposal to use most of the $725,000 from that sale to assign more police to northeast Los Angeles is still stalled in the city's Public Works Committee.

"We're still working on it," said Brad Sales, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre, who represents part of Highland Park and who came up with the idea of bringing in more police. Alatorre backs the proposal to sell the York Boulevard site to Alhambra developer Maurice R. Chasse.

City officials predict that the council will give final approval to the Chasse sale in two weeks, but expect it may take a few months to settle the controversial issue of how to use the proceeds. Money generated by sale of land usually goes into the city's general fund.

Many civic leaders and local merchants have high hopes for both ideas. They have long complained that northeast Los Angeles is understaffed by police, and contended that the sleepy commercial district along York Boulevard needs revitalization.

"The York Boulevard merchants are very pleased," said Paula Arvedson, president of the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce.

Chasse said he will pay about $725,000 for the two-story station and surrounding 1.3 acres and build 34,000 square feet of offices and retail space there. He has agreed to lease the station's lower level back to the city for $1 a year for eight years so that civic leaders can use it for meetings. After eight years, rents will rise to market levels--a move that disturbs some Highland Park residents.

Part of the first floor, where a large wooden sergeant's desk still stands, will be used as a drop-in station for Los Angeles police from the Northeast Division to write reports, make phone calls and meet people.

Chasse said he also intends to retain the old police station's red brick facade and will permit the facility to be used for filming. Because of its 1920s look, the building is in high demand with the movie and TV industry and was used by film crews 100 days last year, said a spokesman for the city's Motion Picture Film Office.

The station is a city, state and federally recognized landmark and has stood vacant since 1983, when the Northeast Division moved to larger quarters on San Fernando Road near Atwater.

Since then, city and civic officials have considered many proposals for its use, including one to convert it to a live theater and another to use its cells, metal cots and elegant, wood-paneled booking room as a permanent film site.

Last year, a committee of Highland Park residents pared the proposals down to four, and Alatorre made the final decision. At the time, Alatorre said he chose Chasse because the developer would preserve the building's historic design as well as bring in revenue and provide space for community use.

Terms call for the city to use $100,000 of the sale money to renovate the areas that will be used by the police and community residents.

Alatorre would like the remaining $625,000 to help bring more police into Highland Park. It costs $467,000 to add an officer around the clock, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Chasse said construction and renovation are expected to take a year. He said the retail center will be built in the shape of a U around the station and will house about 30 stores, including fast-food restaurants, video/music stores and shoe stores.

As part of the agreement, Chasse has also agreed to make the retail center architecturally compatible by installing a mini-brick facade in the same texture and color as the old station.

Said Robin Kramer, an Alatorre aide: "The station has the potential to be a wonderful anchor for York Boulevard and to help revitalize that street."

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