Plan to demolish and build a 27-story tower at Parker Center Site as part of Councilmember Huizar’s Visionary Civic Center Master Plan to revitalize DTLA’s Civic Center over the next 15 years.
The Los Angeles City Council’s Information, Technology and General Services (ITGS) committee unanimously approved Tuesday, June 19, 2018, additional funding for the demolition of the Parker Center site and a public/private financial plan to build a $708.9 million, 27-story tower at that site as part of the broader Civic Center Master Plan.
The Civic Center Master Plan is a visionary facilities document first proposed via legislation by Councilmember José Huizar in 2015 that aims to bring 1.2 million square feet of City office space, more than one million square feet of housing and 260,000 square-feet of retail to the Civic Center area. It also includes cultural space and a new civic plaza and will be built in six phases over the next 15 years, with the Parker Center site as Phase One.
By relocating thousands of existing City workers from office buildings around Downtown to one core Civic Center area, the City will provide a one-stop location for constituents seeking City services. The plan will also save millions of dollars through the sale of buildings currently being used, and the end of costly leases at office spaces in various buildings around the City.
“The Civic Center Master Plan that I called for in 2015 will create efficiencies and save hundreds of millions of dollars by centralizing City employees and services in one location,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “It will turn the Civic Center into a 24-hour destination by creating an open, pedestrian-focused design with a plaza, paseos and a campus full of residential and retail space. It will also ensure that the surrounding communities, most notably Little Tokyo, are not shut out in both form and practice - as they were decades ago when their property was taken. A quarter of Little Tokyo disappeared forever when Parker Center was built with its back turned to that community. It's time to build the Civic Center Los Angeles deserves.”
The Civic Center Master Plan was introduced as legislation in 2015 by Councilmember Huizar when he requested that the City create a broader facilities planning document during discussions to redevelop the Parker Center site. Huizar called for a more holistic study that would capture the larger Civic Center area long in need of redevelopment to replace City buildings, mall and plaza space, and redesign the Civic Center to open up City Hall to nearby communities.
Huizar’s 2015 motion also called for the City to study partial preservation as an option for Parker Center and add that analysis to the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which was one of the EIR options considered by the City Council. Recently that alternative, with all costs included would be $833 million for the earthquake-damaged Parker Center site.
In February of 2017, Councilmember Huizar’s Planning Committee and the full City Council voted to deny historic status to the Parker Center, designed in 1955 by Architect Welton Becket. They cited that Parker Center was not an exceptional example of Becket’s work – such as other more notable designs of his at the Music Center and the Capital Records building.
Furthermore, Parker Center has had a dubious history with the surrounding communities, most notably Little Tokyo, which lost about ¼ of its landscape, along with hundreds of businesses and residential units to eminent domain to construct Parker Center. This, shortly after the Japanese residents and business owners of Little Tokyo were rebuilding their lives after returning from internment camps during WWII, which Councilmember Huizar called “one of the most shameful periods in American history.”
In its design, the original Parker Center literally turned its back to Little Tokyo.