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School District to Hire Firm in Headquarters Search

Dallas-based Trammell Crow would help Los Angeles Unified find a new home in the central city for 2,500 staff members.

September 05, 2000|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles Unified School District has tentatively agreed to hire the property firm Trammell Crow Co. to help find a new home for its approximately 2,500-member headquarters staff in what could prove to be a giant real estate deal for central Los Angeles.

The Dallas-based real estate firm, which has a sizable presence in Southern California, will be charged with finding at least 400,000-square-feet of space in central Los Angeles. The search for a new headquarters was prompted after the district identified its current home in downtown Los Angeles as a potential location for a new middle or high school.

"It will be a large transaction," said Edwin Van Ginkel, a real estate advisor to the school district. "We are going to look at all the possibilities. We have not made up our minds on whether we would lease or purchase."

Officials for Trammell Crow could not be reached for comment.

The district is rooted downtown, with its 10-acre headquarters complex located on Hill Street just north of the Santa Ana Freeway. It also rents 300,000 square feet of space in Wells Fargo Center, a skyscraper complex atop Bunker Hill.

But the district has set the boundaries for its search way beyond the traditional borders of downtown. The search area is bounded by Boyle Street on the east, the Santa Monica Freeway on the south, La Brea Avenue on the west and San Fernando Road on the north.

"We certainly need a central location . . . convenient to the public and staff," Van Ginkel said.

Downtown supporters are disturbed by the possibility that school district headquarters may move far from its current location.

"We are a government center and they need to be here," said Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Assn.

A final decision on use of the headquarters property won't be made until next year after an environmental review is completed, Van Ginkel said. But even if the school district decides to retain its headquarters there, it will still have to find room to house the approximately 1,200 employees who now work at Wells Fargo Center. The district's lease there expires in 2002.

District staff recommended Trammell Crow from a field of eight candidates, Van Ginkel said. After the terms of a contract are agreed upon, the school board is expected to vote on Trammell Crow's selection within a month, he said.

The school district headquarters has been housed at its current location since the late 1940s. The site on Fort Moore Hill had previously been used as a public school since the 1870s.

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