When the Los Angeles City Council voted in March to tear down Parker Center, the former LAPD headquarters linked to racial discrimination controversies, City Councilman Jose Huizar predicted it would be demolished within a year, and the city will take a step forward on that plan this week.
The plan to tear down the building will put an end to a structure most Americans recognized from depictions on the old TV hit “Dragnet.”
The city’s Bureau of Engineering will hold a meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Public Works Building at 1149 S. Broadway, inviting interested contractors to an information-outreach event to discuss the scope of work for the demolition of Parker Center.
The council approved the demolition of Parker Center so it can be replaced with a 27-story office tower for city employees as part of a larger redevelopment plan for the Civic Center area. The city has earmarked $10 million in bond money to help pay for its destruction.
In voting for its removal, the council also decided against naming Parker Center a historic-cultural monument, despite the Cultural Heritage Commission recommending the move.
Parker Center, which opened in the 1950s, has been mostly empty since 2009 when the LAPD moved to a new building several blocks away. It was designed by Welton Becket, who also designed the Capitol Records building, Music Center and Cinerama Dome.
The building was made nationally famous on the Jack Webb police drama “Dragnet,” and was used in many other television series and films.
Huizar, whose 14th Council District includes the Civic Center, proposed the redevelopment plan. He cited the building’s ties to the department’s past struggles with racial discrimination as a primary reason he voted against the historical designation.
The building was originally known as the Police Facilities Building. In 1969, it was named after former Chief William H. Parker, the chief from 1950 until his death in 1966. Allegations of racial discrimination by police and abuse against the black community are part of Parker’s legacy, which included the 1965 Watts Riots, according to officials.
After four LAPD officers were acquitted in 1992 of assault in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King, violent riots broke out across the city and Parker Center was targeted by protesters who set fire to a parking kiosk and threw rocks at the building.
Despite the negative history, the Los Angeles Conservancy had argued for the preservation of the building, with supporters saying the city cannot preserve only positive history, but council members were too moved by its connection to the department’s darker past.
Huizar’s office estimated that tearing Parker Center down and building the new office tower will cost $483 million, but the overall cost of the entire master plan is still being developed. Key elements from Parker Center, including a mural and a sculpture, will be included in the new design.
–City News Service
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