The Los Angeles City Council has denied historic status to Parker Center, the former LAPD headquarters, clearing the way for the demolition of the mid-century building.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Council voted 10 – 0 to deny Historic Cultural Monument status to the eight-story structure, which housed the police department from the late 1950s until 2009. The City has planned for several years to construct a new municipal office tower on the property along Los Angeles Streets, but has been unable to proceed due to efforts to save the Welton Becket-designed building.
Preservationists, lead by the L.A. Conservancy, argued for saving Parker Center on account of its prominent architect and its important but problematic role in 20th century Los Angeles.
They were countered by representatives of the adjacent Little Tokyo community, for which Parker Center has long been a sore spot. The property which houses the former police headquarters and an adjoining parking garage was originally a part of Little Tokyo’s commercial core, but was taken by the city via eminent domain. More than 1,000 residents, dozens of businesses and religious institutions were displaced as a result.
The Council favored the arguments of the community, with Eighth District Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson voicing opposition to monument status due to Parker Center’s namesake, former LAPD Chief William Parker, who presided over a time of increasingly tense relations between the department and minority communities.
Future plans for Parker Center could include a 28-story, 750,000-square foot office building with ground-floor commercial space to activate its currently sleepy street frontage. It serves as a prelude to potentially grander changes through the new Civic Center master plan, which could infuse residents into the surrounding blocks.
The replacement building would also include an on-site memorial to Parker Center - either in the form of a plaque, art work, or other artifacts from the building. A "planning museum feature" centered on the evolution of Los Angeles could also be included within the project.
- L.A. City Council rejects historical designation for Parker Center (Los Angeles Times)