In what’s likely the final nail in the coffin for the Parker Center, the Los Angeles City Council denied its Historic-Cultural Monument application Tuesday
The unanimous decision was made without any discussion, but it was on the recommendation of the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which declined to recommend the former LAPD headquarters last week after hearing from dozens of Little Tokyo residents.
Those residents argued against landmarking the former LAPD headquarters, because it was built on land seized from Japanese-American residents just a decade after they were forcibly placed into internment camps during World War II.
Built in 1955, the Welton Becket-designed structure was considered state-of-the-art at the time and was among the first police departments in the nation to include a crime lab. Over the years, however, its close associations with some of the darkest moments in the city’s history—as well as with the controversial Chief William Parker himself—have overshadowed its influential and elegant design.
It has been inching toward demolition since the police department moved out of the building in 2009.
The speakers argued that a city plan to replace the building with a tall office building would help to reconnect Little Tokyo and Downtown’s Civic Center. The plan also includes a pedestrian connection between the neighborhoods and community space around the new building.
In the past, city councilmember Jose Huizar, who represents the Downtown area, had proposed that the Parker Center could be preserved alongside a newer structure, but after a report from the Bureau of Engineering made clear that option would be significantly more expensive, he seemed to change his tune.
“To call this building a masterpiece specimen of midcentury architecture,” he said at the PLUM Committee meeting, “and to retain its landmark status with the Parker name is to further the revisionist history that dismisses the injustices done to many communities, including Little Tokyo.”