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Foundation sues city over Parker Center plans

LOS ANGELES — The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles seeking to halt the planned demolition of the former downtown police headquarters building, which the nonprofit wants to see converted into a homeless shelter.

Representatives of the foundation and two organizations it funds, the Healthy Housing Foundation and the Coalition to Preserve LA, held a news conference outside the building known as Parker Center to announce the suit Aug. 15.

The City Council approved the demolition of Parker Center in March 2017 to make way for an office tower for city employees as part of a larger redevelopment plan for the Civic Center area.

The City Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the foundation’s lawsuit, which comes in the wake of the organization’s announcement in May that it would launch a ballot initiative in a bid to save Parker Center.

The suit cites California Civil Civil Code of Procedure 562a, which allows for lawsuits to be brought to prevent the waste of public funds, and says the foundation estimates the building could be converted to a homeless shelter for about $102 million, while the city estimates it would cost $295 million.

“City officials are padding their estimate to rehab and repurpose Parker Center as housing because they are bound and determined to tear down it because they simply don’t want it in their backyard,” foundation President Michael Weinstein said. “It is a horrible waste of public funds and shows a lack of interest in the cost-effective use of existing resources at a time when the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles rages on largely unabated.”

The estimated cost of demolishing Parker Center and building the new office tower is $708.9 million. The council, on a 12-0 vote, approved a public/private financing plan for the project and scheduled the demolition to begin this fall and be completed by December 2019.

One of the goals of the project is to centralize more city employees in the Civic Center area by allowing the city to sell other buildings it owns or terminate leases in ones it rents, which the city estimates will save money and significantly reduce the overall cost of the new office tower.

The council recently approved a plan to explore converting the former Los Angeles Children’s Museum, which is about a block away from Parker Center, into a temporary homeless shelter as part of a plan to spend tens of millions on temporary homeless shelters around the city.

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