Since its completion in 1933, the Los Angeles County General Hospital Building has ranked among the most visible landmarks east of Downtown. The 19-story Art Deco building encompasses 1.5 million square feet of space, and remains the visual centerpiece of the L.A. County + USC Medical Center campus.
Despite its visibility for miles around, the hulking structure is almost entirely vacant. Following the devastation of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, Los Angeles County worked to create a replacement hospital that would adhere to modern seismic codes. Since that replacement facility opened in 2008, the General Hospital has been left empty beyond its ground floor, which is home to the LAC + USC Foundation's Wellness Center.
Now, according to a motion introduced by Supervisor Hilda Solis, Los Angeles County is looking to reactivate the iconic high-rise structure. The motion, which is to be considered at this week's meeting of the Board of Supervisors, makes the case for the adaptive reuse of the General Hospital as a housing and mixed-use building to serve the surrounding community, which has "tremendous need" for homeless, low-income, and special needs housing.
The age and size of the General Hospital mean that its adaptive reuse will require significant technical analysis, as well as research into potential funding mechanisms. Federal tax credits, public-private partnerships, and even an enhanced infrastructure financing district could be used to facilitate a project, according to the motion.
Solis also notes that the census tract that includes the LAC + USC Medical Center has been designated as an "Opportunity Zone" through a program created by the 2017 Congressional tax bill. This status is intended to incentivize private sector investment into economically challenged communities.
The motion directs County staff to conduct a feasibility study for the project and report back to the Board of Supervisors in Fall 2019.
The proposed adaptive reuse project would dovetail nicely with USC's own expansion plans for the surrounding medical center. Following the creation of a new master plan, the USC Health Sciences Campus has seen significant ground-up development in the past five years, including new treatment facilities, student housing, and the pending addition of a 200-room Hyatt Place hotel.
- Boyle Heights Archive (Urbanize LA)