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Work begins on new DTLA federal courthouse, but what about the old one?

By Hayley Fox
Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013, at 04:21PM
rendering provided by the U.S. General Services Administration

Although the new Downtown courthouse is underway, there is still no plan for what to do with the old one on Spring Street.

Officials broke ground last week on a new federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles that will eventually fill a long-vacant lot on 1st and Broadway with a 600,000 square-foot building.

The new home of the U.S. District Court will be designed to use more solar heat and let in more natural light. It will also house several government agencies that serve the Central District of California, including the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorneys' Office and the Federal Public Defender.

“It’s going to be a giant step forward in terms of its use of energy and leaving as small an environmental footprint as possible," said Langston Trigg, interim director for design and construction on the project. "It’ll be a very attractive addition to downtown Los Angeles.”

It will be a $319 million addition, which will also include increased security measures, a new cafeteria and more outdoor space. The building itself will look like a large cube.

"The shape of this courthouse, through its simplicity and luminous, Euclidean clarity, will define its role as an important and timeless civic addition to Los Angeles' governmental precinct," said project designer Craig Hartman, in a statement. "Its gardens, courtyards and civic plaza - accessible to all- will convey a generous sense of public-spiritedness."

But as one hole gets filled, another may be left empty — or at least a building left unused. Trigg said that the GSA has not decided what to do with the old courthouse yet, or whether they will tear it down or fix it up.

Officials at the GSA previously told KPCC that the Spring Street courthouse has asbestos issues, security problems and is need of a seismic retrofit. All are issues that would need to be addressed if the building will be used for some other purpose.

The new courthouse should be completed by 2016. Crews are currently in the process of testing the soil and prepping the site for construction.

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