A longtime plan to convert historic Fire Station No. 23 in Downtown Los Angeles into a youth art center is finally coming to fruition, as shown in a recent social media post by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering.
Images posted to Facebook show a renovation in full swing at 225 E. 5th Street, with ongoing work including upgrades to structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Historic finishes are to be retained, under a design from Brooks + Scarpa.
Construction is slated to be completed in two phases - the first of which is a retrofit of the building. Afterwards, plans call for converting the interior, with flexible gallery exhibit space to be housed in the ground floor in what was once the fire station's apparatus bay. Classrooms and art programming are planned for the second and third floors of the building.
In 2018, the Downtown News reported that funding for the Fire Station No. 23 makeover was approved in 1996 through Proposition K., which allocated $25 million annually for new parks, recreation facilities, and other youth-oriented spaces. Prop. K allocated $2.3 million to convert the firehouse originally, although the cost for the project had already outstripped that sum in 2018.
Per a landing page on the Brooks + Scarpa website, the fire station came into service in 1910, and even accommodate horse-drawn fire engines until 1915. It was considered one of the most advanced facilities of its type at the time of its construction, and was dubbed the "Taj Mahal" due to its ornate design.
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