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Budokan Lease Approved by Council

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, at 08:37AM
Budokan of Los Angeles Little Tokyo Service Center

Rendering of the Budokan of Los Angeles recreation center

Little Tokyo's long-awaited recreation center got the official go-ahead on Tuesday with City Council's approval of a 25-year lease for the site on Los Angeles Street, between 2nd and 3rd.

Now the real work starts. The facility, named the Budokan of Los Angeles is projected to cost $22 million to build. Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) will be developing the project, and will be responsible for raising the necessary funds.

Talk of a Little Tokyo gymnasium first started in the 1970s, as part of the push that led to the building of the Japanese American Cultural Community Center.

The 38,000-square-foot facility will include a four-court gymnasium, community space and a rooftop garden with jogging track.

Originally, the City of Los Angeles was going to built a parking structure and rent LTSC the land atop it for construction of the Budokan project. That garage got scrapped as the budget got tight, but new plans call for LTSC to build a 150-space structure as part of the facility.

The rec center will be two doors down from the Little Tokyo branch library, on a block that straddles the west end of Little Tokyo and the north end of the Historic Core.

While the project may primarily be a facility for neighborhood youth, backers also see it as a place that can draw events to Downtown Los Angeles. A Tuesday release mentioned the International Judo tournament, which has been held at UC Irvine in recent years and is estimated to bring $1 million in economic impact for the community.

“The Budokan project has traveled a long road and after approximately 18 years, it now has a permanent home,” stated Bill Watanabe, Executive Director of LTSC in a Tuesday release. “We will be very excited to one day open the doors to this major sports and activity center, because it will serve as a major destination site for large scale sporting events, especially for martial arts tournaments, which have no dedicated venue.”

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