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L.A. Unified Hopes to Use Site of Shuttered Hospital for High School

While more classrooms are needed in the area, some are concerned about creating a campus at the busy Granada Hills intersection.

March 13, 2004|Stephanie Stassel | Times Staff Writer

The property of the now-defunct Granada Hills Community Hospital could become the site of a Los Angeles Unified School District high school, officials said Friday.

Escrow is scheduled to close next week on an 11-acre site at Balboa Boulevard and Devonshire Street that was purchased for $22.5 million, said Edwin Van Ginkel, the district's senior development manager.

The financially troubled hospital, opened in 1965, was ordered by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge to close six months ago.

The LAUSD Financing Corp., a nonprofit agency that purchases property for the school district, bought the site at an auction last month, outbidding a real estate development company, Van Ginkel said.

"There are a number of different school needs in that area," he said. "We're going to be working with the community to determine the best use for the property. I hope they will see the wisdom of using this site for a high school."

A 1,215-seat high school -- needed to relieve crowding at Monroe High School in North Hills and Kennedy High School in Granada Hills -- would cost an estimated $72 million, including the property purchase price, Van Ginkel said. Half of the money would come from Proposition 47 and half from Measure K, both passed in 2002.

Because the area lacks a large piece of vacant land, Van Ginkel said the school district would be forced to use eminent domain to buy 40 to 60 single-family residences if a high school were not built on the former hospital grounds.

Rob Norris, a past president of the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern about locating a high school at the busy intersection.

"It's terrible traffic, especially at rush hour. I can't imagine a high school there," said Norris, adding the chamber is on record as wanting the site to remain a hospital or medical facility.

The principal of a private school next to the property said she expects community opposition to using the hospital property for a high school.

"My guess would be the community won't be too happy, although the school is needed," said Janice Rudd of Pinecrest School, which has toddlers through sixth-grade students.

A public hearing to review the school district's options for relieving crowding at Monroe and Kennedy high schools is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 20 at a site to be determined.

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