Derelict Civic Center Plot Eyed for Park

The state owned property has been fenced off for more than three decades. Under a pending city plan, it would be turned into a park.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELE — The city has reached a tentative deal to pay $7.5 million for a state-owned parcel at First Street and Broadway that has been a Civic Center blight spot for 35 years. The city is planning to turn the property just west of City Hall into a park.

The city Board of Recreation and Parks in March approved a plan to buy the two-acre site using an array of financial sources, including Quimby fees (charged to developers to pay for park creation), zone change fees and money from a Recreation and Parks Department capital improvement fund.

In total, the commission approved a plan to spend $9.9 million to acquire the site and to pay for demolition work needed to clear the property of an underground parking facility.

The site was home to a 13-story state office building constructed in 1931 that was damaged in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. The state demolished the building in 1976, and the site has sat mostly unused, except by skateboarders and squatters. Today it is home to dozens of feral cats.

Remnants of the old building, including the underground garage, which is not structurally sound, remain on the fenced-off site. Those old building bones, which have been routinely scrawled with graffiti — some know the site as the “graffiti pit” — would have to be cleared before park development could proceed.

The proposed sale goes before the state Board of Public Works on May 10. If approved, it would start a 60-day escrow period, said Michael Liang, a spokesman for the state Department of General Services, in an email.

If the deal goes through, however, it is unclear how the city would fund the actual development of the park, or when it could open. The $9.9 million budget would only cover acquisition, demolition and “pre-development” activities, according to a Recreation and Parks report.

A Recreation and Parks spokesperson declined to comment on the plans for the site, pending the ongoing negotiations.

The site is adjacent to the eastern portion of the county-owned Grand Park, a $56 million space that opened last summer. The county had also been in preliminary talks to acquire the site. Both the city and the county had been eyeing the site for a park.

Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at ryan@downtownnews.com.