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LA government access TV station moves headquarters to Olvera Street theater

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013, at 10:50AM
courtesy José Huizar's office/via olverastreet.com

The Merced Theater, center, will be renovated to house the City's government access TV station, Channel 35.

Los Angeles' government access television station — which broadcasts live City Council meetings — is moving from it's Little Tokyo home to a modernized space set up at a historic Olvera Street theater.

The Merced Theater at El Pueblo Historical Monument was built in 1870 and according to the City, is one of the oldest structures in Los Angeles. The space will have to be retrofitted to meet current building codes and it will also be renovated to create a new "state-of- the-art digital platform" for the L.A. Cityview 35.

According to the station: "L.A. Cityview provides live and repeat coverage of all City Council meetings. In addition, original programming related to city departments, events, and services are produced and aired."

Area councilman José Huizar said that the arrangement is a win-win for the building and the city, and won't compromise the building's historic preservation status.

“We will reactive a building that has sat empty for years, while allowing us to continue to provide much-needed programming through Channel 35 – a vital partner in providing City of Los Angeles residents with information relevant to their daily lives," said Huizar.

Renovations will include building a digital television studio and upgrading fire and security alarms, along with electrical and plumbing.

According to Huizar's office, Channel 35 has outgrown its studios at the Union Bank building in Little Tokyo. The City Council instructed L.A.'s Bureau of Engineering and Information Technology Agency to find a new suitable location for the TV outfit.

Although renovations to the Merced Theater are expected to cost $19 to $23 million, officials say that once Channel 35 is all moved in, they will save about $342,000 a year on the lease.

Renovations should be completed by 2016.

The Merced Theater isn't the only Olvera Street landmark to undergo massive renovations in recent years. In October 2012, the Getty Conservation Institute along with L.A. City unveiled a restored version of the historic "América Tropical" mural. Located on an exterior wall of the Italian Hall, this David Alfaro Siqueiros piece was accompanied by a viewing platform and new, high-tech museum dedicated to Siqueiros' life and body of work.

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