Merced Theatre renovation stalls as costs soar

The goal was to complete a $23 million transformation by 2017

Property at 430 N. Main Street (Historic Los Angeles Theatres via Bill Counter)
Property at 430 N. Main Street (Historic Los Angeles Theatres via Bill Counter)

Three years after the project’s inception, the restoration of the Merced Theatre at 430 N. Main Street has been delayed once again.

Construction bids for the project from Amoroso and Pinner Construction came in at $35 million and $40 million — more than 50 percent higher than the city’s budget, the Los Angeles Downtown News reported. The city expected a $23 million price tag.

But the 147-year-old historical building needs more work than anticipated. Initial details suggested the exterior façade would remain intact, while the interior space would be reconstructed into modern offices and a television studio. New plumbing, electrical systems and other infrastructure elements would need to be installed.

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Once the studio is complete, Channel 35, which broadcasts City Council and governmental meetings, is expected to move its headquarters from Little Tokyo to the building.

The Bureau of Engineering, El Pueblo and Channel 35 are considering alterations to bring down costs. The next call for bids will likely occur next February. The city plans to hire a contractor by the end of next June. [DTN] – Natalie Hoberman