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Redevelopment Agency Looks West for New Office Space

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, December 14, 2009, at 10:07AM
Garland Center Eric Richardson [Flickr]

The Garland Center, at 1200 W. 7th, is the likely new home of the Community Redevelopment Agency's Central Office.

Upset over deteriorating conditions at the Popular Center, the Community Redevelopment Agency is looking to make a move west. On Thursday, the agency will ask its board for permission to negotiate a final lease for nearly 100,000 square feet at the Garland Center in City West.

The move will nearly empty the Popular Center, located at 4th and Spring. Though its name is still on the building, Banco Popular recently left its corner space and the offices above have few other tenants.

The CRA report says that conditions in the building have deteriorated since Banco Popular sold the 1902 structure to Popular Center, LLC, a partnership led by Dr. David Lee of Jamison Properties. The report cites a faulty air and heating systems, uneven flooring, worn carpets, "unexplained fumes," and rotting window frames.

Currently, both the CRA's Central Office and the Downtown Region are located in the Popular Center. The new site would require a split, since the region office must be located in one of its project areas. The search for a region office is ongoing.

Listings on Jamison Services' website show just over 26,000 square feet in the Popular building available for immediate rental. Adding in the 94,000 square feet occupied by CRA, that makes 120,000 square feet in a building listed at 128,000 square feet.

The building's only life is found on its ground floor, with SKINGRAFT and Blends on the street and M'ouments and design shop The Groop inside.

The Garland Center at 1200 W. 7th has housed City departments since 2003. The Housing Department and the Community Development Department are current tenants, though both are scheduled to move to the City-owned Figueroa Plaza (in 2013 and 2023, respectively).

Cited as benefits of the new location are a public auditorium, freight elevators, adequate parking and lower costs.

The report says that the CRA also studied a much shorter move into the Title Guarantee Building at 433 S. Spring, but that during its research the agency "became aware of building conditions that made that building infeasible for relocation."

Also considered was the LA Times building, at 1st and Spring. That deal was scuttled because of "difficulties negotiating an adequate tenant improvement allowance because of the Bankruptcy status of the parent company."

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