The effort to create a public safety community center for Koreatown took a step forward last month when an empty building identified as a possible site was donated to the city by Bank of America.
The building that housed a Bank of America branch at 1819 S. Western Ave. was offered to the city of Los Angeles in early June. The Koreatown Public Safety Assn. has been discussing use of the site with city and police officials.
"We are not sure what is going to happen to the building, but we are hopeful we can use it for a police substation and multi-ethnic public safety center," said Yohngsohk Choe, president of the association. "There is a determination on the part of the Koreatown Community that this be done."
Before the use of the site is settled, the city must agree to assume ownership, an issue that will probably be considered next month, officials said.
Several other groups, including the Harvard Heights and Western Heights neighborhood associations, have also expressed interest in the building. But Assistant Police Chief Bernard C. Parks said the public safety association's proposal seems to offer "the best of all worlds."
Parks said it would be a "can't-lose" situation with a large corporation donating the building, the city providing supervision and staffing while a community group puts up an endowment to maintain and operate the facility.
Choe said his group has already laid the groundwork for a fund-raising campaign, and would be able to quickly move toward its $2-million endowment goal once the fate of the site is decided.
Choe declined to say how much his group had already secured through pledges, but an April 21 letter written by Parks to Bank of America officials stated that the association had "made great strides" in identifying financial sources.
If the location is used for the public safety community center, Parks said police would transfer officers from other stations to the site, although it would not be a "full-blown substation." The building would also serve as a community meeting place, an information and education center and a hub for area neighborhood watch programs.