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County to Open 'Project 50' Office on the Corner of 5th and Main

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, April 25, 2008, at 04:48PM
Former King's Market Space Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Corner space in the Pershing Hotel, formerly King's Market and a pawn shop, will become offices and medical space for Project 50.

Prime retail space on the corner of 5th and Main will soon become administrative and medical offices for the county's Project 50. Construction on the space in the Pershing Hotel is well underway. When complete the facility will contain office space for the project's staff and medical examining rooms for seeing those enrolled in the program.

The county's decision to locate the offices in this location is a contentious one, since the corner is viewed as having great importance in connecting street life at 4th and Main with the growing activity at 6th and Main.

Each month the Downtown Art Walk shows off the tremendous transformation of 5th and Main. The intersection was long the epicenter of a stretch LAPD referred to as "the Nickle," a several block stretch of rampant drug sales along 5th street.

Today, Bert Green Fine Art and Pharmaka occupy two corners, and a new eatery sits on a third. On the second Thursday of each month the sidewalks out in front of the three are packed with those out enjoying the street scene.

Until recently, the southeast corner of 5th and Main was home to Kings Market, a convenience store that many in the community say was the site of illegal activity. When the market closed recently, those neighbors were looking forward to getting a chance to complete the intersection and add some life to the corner's fourth leg. They were surprised to instead find that the space would be going to social services open only during the daytime hours. The space used extends along the 5th street side of the building, encompassing two additional former retail locations.

Project 50 is a county effort to identify the fifty most vulnerable residents on the streets of Skid Row and get them into housing and using supportive services. A story in last week's Downtown News said that so far 23 people have been housed.

While construction on the site is proceeding, efforts are also being made to get the county to find a different site for the Project 50 offices.

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