Architecture and city planning critic Sam Hall Kaplan writes in the Downtown News that a new police headquarters across from City Hall would violate pretty much all of the good ideas being talked about for enhancing downtown. The site bounded by First and Second streets and Spring and Main—where the old Caltrans building stands—has been coveted for a park that he writes would open up the Civic Center and tie together the "new downtown" that everyone keeps saying is such a plus for the city.
Located at the approximate intersection of the Historic Core, Little Tokyo, Bunker Hill and the Civic Center, directly south of City Hall, the block begs to be the focal point and people place of an emergent Downtown, not the site of a security-encrusted fortress.
Call it what you will. And no matter how styled and attractively landscaped, a police headquarters does not generate a welcoming public presence. With its high volume of squad car traffic in an already congested area, it really should be located adjacent to a freeway, perhaps north of the 101, and east of the MTA complex.
The Civic Square could be such a place, drawing users out of the nearby government offices, the increasing residential population of the adjacent Old Bank District, and tourists from Bunker Hill and beyond. It also even might attract reporters and editors out from the insular Los Angeles Times building to the west....one should also keep in mind Vibiana Place. With its proposed public library, performing arts center, apartments and boutique hotel, it will fit well with an inviting park diagonally across the street, rather than face a forbidding police headquarters. It is bad enough that the mixed-use project already has the new Caltrans headquarters hovering to the north. Another such monolith could really damage its viability.
The Downtown News also has more details about the Anschutz hotel planned for the Staples Center parking lot. It may have condos on the top floors and carry the logo and name of a corporation that pays for naming rights. Also, there will be a 15-screen movie theater complex as part of the "L.A. Live" sports and entertainment district that the Anschutz folks plan to build between the arena and the Original Pantry.