State Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) is seeking state funds to purchase the site of the historic Van de Kamp's Bakery in Glassell Park for possible use as a Los Angeles Community College District satellite campus.
"The senator is looking to get a budget appropriation with the goal of pursuing that site or another site in the Northeast [Los Angeles] area to provide community college courses," said Bill Mabie, Polanco's chief of staff, adding:
"We are looking at how can we in some way preserve [the historic structure] and also fill a need in the community."
The 1930s-era bakery closed in 1990, and the building has fallen into disuse.
The bakery is slated to be demolished and replaced by a Lowe's Home Center and a Burger King. The city Planning Commission is scheduled to consider this proposal July 13.
Preservationists are trying to save the bakery's historic facade, which faces Fletcher Drive near San Fernando Road. The facade was given a historic designation by the city Cultural Heritage Commission in 1992, but the commission decided later not to block its demolition.
The Los Angeles Community College District trustees voted to support Polanco's efforts last week--but only in a general way. While backing efforts to pursue state funds for a satellite center somewhere in Northeast Los Angeles, they stopped short of making a specific endorsement of the Van de Kamp's site.
Mabie said budget negotiations over the proposal are still in flux and declined to give further details. He also said it was unknown whether the site's commercial developers, brothers Ralph and Larry Cimmarusti, could be persuaded to sell. The brothers have the site in escrow.
Ralph Cimmarusti expressed skepticism at Polanco's efforts, and said his plan will bring jobs to the area. He also said the idea for a college satellite is flawed, because it is too close to Glendale College, his alma mater.
"For 10 years now, nobody's stepped up and wanted to do anything there. Now all of a sudden, there's a viable development proposed, and they all step up," he said. "It's ridiculous."