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Parker Center's Future at Issue

November 27, 2002|Patrick McGreevy and Megan Garvey | Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles police commissioners and City Council members clashed Tuesday over the fate of the Police Department's deteriorating headquarters, with council members deeming unlikely the commission's push to relocate Parker Center's 1,200 employees within 90 days.

"We do have the authority to vacate the building. We could order this building empty," said Police Commission President Rick Caruso after listening to rental alternatives for police headquarters.

But council members -- who have the power to negotiate leases for city offices -- said they would not be rushed.

The council voted 12 to 1 Tuesday to instruct the city's Municipal Facilities Committee to report back in 60 days with a plan for the near-term relocation of Parker Center employees and for possibly replacing the 47-year-old building.

Councilman Nate Holden stood opposed.

"With crime being what it is ... and the need for more police officers, I for one will not put a building in front of the need to provide additional police officers," he said. Parker Center, yellow-tagged after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, fails to meet earthquake safety requirements.

At Tuesday's Police Commission meeting, two consultants laid out an evaluation of alternatives for the city, saying that renting space in the soft downtown real estate market would cost little more than staying in a building most agree would cost too much to renovate.

Whitley Collins of CB Richard Ellis, a real estate services company, said there would be a nominal cost to the city if it proceeded with abandoning Parker Center and rebuilding on the same land at a later date. Collins, whose firm worked pro bono on the issue, said the LAPD occupies about 471,000 square feet of office space at Parker Center and in other short-term rentals at an annual cost of about $7.9 million.

He told commissioners his firm's research indicated that the city could rent less space, used more efficiently in a "B, B-plus or A building downtown" for close to the same amount. Collins said he also thought that with the promise of a secure long-term tenant and a probable seven-year minimum lease with an early out clause, several real estate agents would be willing to cut the city a check for the estimated $15 million it would cost to move facilities and configure new office space.

Larry Kosmont, a consultant who first prepared a report in 1996 detailing the problems facing the boxy Parker Center, called the building "unfixable."

Councilman Tom LaBonge won council approval to expand the study to look at moving some police functions into City Hall East, across the street from Parker Center.

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