An earthquake safety bond measure approved this week may help pave the way for a police museum at the old Northeast Police Station in Highland Park to be established independent of proposals to build a new apartment complex or pizza restaurant next to the site, Los Angeles Councilman Richard Alatorre said.
Proposition G, which authorized Los Angeles to sell $376 million in bonds to strengthen 450 bridges and 100 public buildings that do not meet earthquake safety standards, was approved Tuesday by 72% of the city's voters, according to unofficial returns Wednesday.
Alatorre, who represents Highland Park, said the measure should provide the $500,000 to $1 million needed to make the former police station safe for occupancy. The historic structure, built in 1925 in a distinctive Renaissance Revival architectural style, has been designated a federal and city landmark and a police organization wants to use it to house a police museum.
Because of the high cost of removing hazardous asbestos and reinforcing the exterior of the now-closed station, Alatorre had previously favored incorporating the museum into one of two commercial proposals for the site at 6045 York Blvd. A private nonprofit group seeking to organize the museum protested, saying the commercial plans would make less space available for the museum project and detract from its appearance.
In an interview Tuesday night as the bond measure appeared headed for victory, Alatorre said the additional money available for earthquake safety measures means that the adjoining commercial projects are no longer needed.
"The bond measure would provide, I think, a sufficient amount of money to retrofit the building," he said. "Obviously, it makes the police museum, from an economic standpoint, a lot more viable."
The council's public works committee is scheduled to review proposals for the Northeast Police Station on June 20.
Sgt. Richard Kalk, a Los Angeles Police Department detective who has spearheaded the museum proposal for the Los Angeles Police Historical Society, learned Wednesday morning about Alatorre's new position on paying for the needed work.
"That's gorgeous," Kalk said. "Somebody up there loves us. We were still under the impression he was leaning toward the apartment complex."
H.T. Greene and Associates of Los Angeles had proposed constructing apartments and retail stores around the historic station. The Jacmar Cos. of Alhambra proposed building a pizza restaurant and commercial offices at the site.
Alatorre has supported the idea of a police museum but was concerned that its backers lacked the money to renovate the station.
At the councilman's urging, Kalk met with the private firms to discuss ways to include the police museum in their projects, with the developers absorbing the renovation costs. But Kalk said he preferred to devote the entire site to the museum.
On Tuesday, Alatorre said he was not enthused about either of the commercial plans and was ready to seek new proposals if the bond measure had been defeated. "Whatever ultimate proposal is accepted, there is going to be a police museum," he said.