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L.A. County to consider reopening Hall of Justice [Updated]

December 1, 2009 |  3:33 pm

Los Angeles County’s Hall of Justice, vacant since it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, might be reopened.

The Board of Supervisors today ordered staff to prepare a report within 45 days on the feasibility of again using the facility. They noted that construction costs have decreased over the last year as available federal funds have increased.

The ornate 14-story building, at the corner of Temple Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, once housed county courts and coroner's, sheriff's and district attorney's offices, and a jail. Built in 1925, it has a storied history in the annals of local justice.

The hall was among 26 county buildings shut down in the immediate aftermath of the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake. At the time, then-Sheriff Sherman Block said damage had rendered the department's data systems there -- including computers, automated fingerprint systems and criminal history information -- at least temporarily useless. He estimated the cost of repairing the building at $100 million, a figure he said probably meant it would be permanently vacated.

The possibility of reopening the Hall of Justice was revisited in 2001 after Sheriff Lee Baca pushed a plan to relocate there but deemed by other county leaders as too costly to pursue.

[Updated at 4:25 p.m.: Baca’s spokesman, Steve Whitmore, said this afternoon that his boss was “very gratified” that the idea was moving forward now.

“He thinks that the Hall is where the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department should be headquartered,” Whitmore said. “Not only is it an important landmark, he believes the department’s history is there, and it is physically at the center of Los Angeles County.”]

-- Garrett Therolf, reporting from the Hall of Administration

Photo: Hall of Justice in 2001. Credit: Robert Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times