LA County looks at redeveloping historic General Hospital

Considers affordable housing, community services and retail space at Art Deco landmark, 12 surrounding acres in Boyle Heights

Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County General Hospital at 1200 State Street (Getty)
Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County General Hospital at 1200 State Street (Getty)

Los Angeles County is moving ahead with plans to redevelop its historic General Hospital
in Boyle Heights and a dozen acres on the surrounding campus.

The county has released a four-year feasibility study on how to repurpose the 1.2-million-square-foot Art Deco landmark into affordable housing, community services and retail space, Urbanize Los Angeles reported. The West Campus is also open to development.

The 1,200-bed General Hospital, which opened in 1933, closed because of damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The 600-bed LAC+USC Medical Center opened in 2008 next door.

The General Hospital building now serves as home to a Wellness Center and various nonprofits and government offices on its first four floors. The West Campus is the 35-acre portion of the LAC+USC Medical Center Campus north of State Street across from General Hospital and south of Mission Road.

It has 12 acres available for development after setting aside property for future phases of the county’s Restorative Care Village and future expansion of the LAC+USC Medical Center and the Medical Examiner-Coroner facility, according to a letter accompanying the report from the county’s Chief Executive Office.

The feasibility study conducted for the hospital and the surrounding land offers a general outline of potential uses.

For the 19-story hospital surrounded by Boyle Heights, Lincoln Park, East L.A. and El Sereno, potential uses include affordable housing for deeply, extremely, and very low-income community members.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The hospital and adjacent land could also be redeveloped for health and social support services, job training, preschool and daycare, a senior center, after school STEM classes and a space for business incubators, according to the report. Uses could also include open space, neighborhood retail, and arts, library and commemorative spaces.

The scale of the property, market conditions and the ongoing use of the surrounding hospital complex may complicate that vision, Urbanize reported.

The adaptive reuse of the abandoned hospital – which appeared in TV shows and movies such as General Hospital, The Interns, City of Angels, and Dr. Kildare – would also depend on upgrades to building systems, lead abatement and a seismic retrofit.

Its goliath girth doesn’t lend itself to existing streams of affordable housing funding, which is typically allocated in small portions. Likewise, a desire for larger three-bedroom units may prove less attractive from a cost-efficiency perspective, relative to smaller one- and two-bedroom dwellings.

Likely funding sources for its redevelopment would include private market rate debt and equity, state and federal low-income housing tax credits, and bonds, and private affordable debt and equity, according to the feasibility study launched in 2018. Other sources – including grants, philanthropy, or even an enhanced infrastructure financing district – could also play a role.

The redevelopment of General Hospital and the West Campus would add to recent expansion by USC near the county hospital complex, including student housing, new medical buildings and a 200-room Hyatt House Hotel. The new Restorative Care Village will cater to homeless patients released from the hospital.

[Urbanize Los Angeles] – Dana Bartholomew

Read more