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L.A. County again considers reopening Hall of Justice

Closed since it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge quake, the historic downtown edifice could now be affordable to repair, thanks to federal funds and reduced construction costs.

December 02, 2009|By Garrett Therolf
  • Peeling paint can be seen in this file photo of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice.
Peeling paint can be seen in this file photo of the Los Angeles County Hall… (Los Angeles Times )

Los Angeles County's Hall of Justice, vacant since it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, might be reopened. The Board of Supervisors ordered staff Tuesday to prepare a report within 45 days on the feasibility of again using the facility, noting that construction costs have decreased over the last year and that available federal funds have increased.

The ornate 14-story building, at the corner of Temple Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, was built in 1925 and once housed a jail, county courts and coroner's, sheriff's and district attorney's offices. After the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake, then-Sheriff Sherman Block estimated the cost of repairing the building at $100 million, which he said probably meant it would be permanently vacated.

The possibility of reopening the Hall of Justice was revisited in 2001, after Sheriff Lee Baca pushed a plan to relocate his headquarters there. Ultimately, it was deemed too costly to pursue.

Baca's spokesman, Steve Whitmore, said Tuesday that his boss was "very gratified" that the idea was moving forward now.

"He thinks that the Hall is where the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department should be headquartered," Whitmore said. "Not only is it an important landmark, he believes the department's history is there, and it is physically at the center of Los Angeles County."

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