Los Angeles County officials are moving forward with a plan to convert the mostly vacant General Hospital building, on the site of L.A. County-USC Medical Center, into affordable housing units.
The Board of Supervisors approved a motion Tuesday to begin creating construction and financial plans for the project. The motion directs county departments to report back within four months on a potential timeline and allocate up to $194.7 million in funding for the project, according to a news release from Supervisor Hilda Solis.
“Cementing our commitment to its restoration and reuse can aid in our response to the housing crisis our region is experiencing, as well as provide exceptional health services — carrying on the hospital’s over 150-year-old mission,” said Solis, who introduced the motion.
The General Hospital project is part of the Restorative Care Village proposal, a county effort that began in 2017 with the goal of combining resources for homelessness, unemployment, mental health and substance abuse on the County-USC campus. Under the proposal, General Hospital could be overhauled to include 184 market-rate units and 371 affordable units.
A spokesperson for Solis’ office said the project will help provide residential treatment and services for housing-insecure people who may need a place to recover after receiving medical care.
The Restorative Care Village project has three phases. Phase 1 was recently completed with the 96-bed Recuperative Care Center, which will offer interim supportive housing for some people released from L.A. County health facilities, and the 64-bed Residential Treatment Programs, which will provide intensive treatment for patients discharged from psychiatric care.
Phase 2 will include the construction of facilities for community resources and recreation, employment services and psychiatric urgent care.
The redevelopment of General Hospital, which could begin construction in 2024 with a target completion of 2026, constitutes Phase 3.
The front lobby of the General Hospital building. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
An abandoned wheelchair inside the General Hospital building. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A visitor takes snapshots at the entrance of the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A visitor looks around an operating room in the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Exterior of the Los Angeles County General Hospital, an iconic Art Deco building in Boyle Heights that has largely been closed for two decades. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A table and chairs in an otherwise empty room at the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A sign points to the morgue in the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Visitors stand inside the medical library of the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A framed portrait of former L.A. County Director of Health Services Robert W. White sits on the floor of a room in the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A dermatological laboratory in the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Bill Walton, facilities operations manager at L.A. County-USC Medical Center, walks down a hallway in the Los Angeles County General Hospital. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
The project will also allow for the possibility for community and commercial space, such as child care, a gym or a grocery store, according to Solis’ office.
Developers will reach out to local communities for applicants for General Hospital’s affordable housing units.
General Hospital’s 19-story, 1.2 million-square-foot Art Deco building opened in 1934 about a mile and a half from downtown Los Angeles. Due to its proximity to skid row and other underserved communities, the hospital became a provider of medical services for unhoused and low-income residents.
In January 1994, the hospital was damaged by the Northridge earthquake and fell out of compliance with fire safety and earthquake codes.
The new L.A. County-USC Medical Center complex was erected next door, and in 2008, operations were moved.
Most of the original General Hospital building remains unused, though its lower floors are home to the Wellness Center, a U.S. Navy medical training center and several county departments.
In November 2018, Solis wrote a motion directing a feasibility study for the reuse of the building. The results of the study, which were presented to the board in April of this year, recommended that the hospital be repurposed to include hundreds of affordable housing units and expand services from the Wellness Center.