NORTH HOLLYWOOD – After years of false starts, the MTA is finally advancing plans to renovate the historic Lankershim train depot for $3.6 million – triple the original estimate. But history buffs, who have criticized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for delaying the face-lift, now worry that the latest plan fails to guarantee the 1896 structure will remain at Lankershim and Chandler boulevards. They have protested proposals to relocate the structure. “They haven’t done anything. They’ve really let it deteriorate,” said preservationist Guy Weddington McCreary, whose family has lived in the San Fernando Valley for generations. “It’s crazy – $1.2 million; then it jumped to $2 million. Now they’re talking about $3.6 million. By the end of 2003 they were supposed to have the thing rehabilitated.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant The MTA plans to spend $3.6 million to refurbish the dilapidated structure with a new foundation, architectural flourishes and fresh paint. Eventually MTA officials plan to establish a customer-service center at the 110-year-old depot to replace the San Fernando Valley facility that was closed last year. But they also want to maintain flexibility in what has become a prime redevelopment area by allowing the depot to be moved to a nearby site if a developer chooses. “We wanted to get this thing reconstructed, stabilized. We decided just to go ahead and fix it all up,” said the MTA’s Kathleen Sanchez. “We’ll ask the developers to incorporate it in the design, keep it in the same block.” The MTA and the Community Redevelopment Agency have been working since 2001 to renovate the depot, which served as a stop for the Red Car and Southern Pacific lines a century ago. The CRA approved work in 2003, but canceled the project a year later after MTA officials decided to explore the possibility of relocating the station as had been suggested by developers. The delays have proved costly. The price tag skyrocketed along with construction expenses to the new estimate of $3.6 million. The depot parcel is a target for developers as properties around the subway and busway stations become sites for mixed-use housing and retail construction. In the past, various uses – from a restaurant to a bicycle shop – had been considered for the structure, but now MTA officials are focusing on the customer center, which would be funded separately. But proposals to move the station – even to the edge of the block with Tujunga Avenue – have stirred outrage in McCreary and the preservation group Save the Depot, who fear it will lose prominence and historical accuracy. McCreary, whose family has owned a nearby parcel for generations, is additionally concerned that the building will continue to deteriorate as the project drags. MTA officials plan to get proposals from builders in coming months and start construction next year. The project would take two years to complete. Transit advocate Kymberleigh Richards is among those who have pushed the MTA to put a customer center at the site after the agency shuttered the Van Nuys office that sold bus passes and tokens and gave out bus maps for decades. Richards serves on the MTA’s Valley governance council, which has asked the MTA to make putting a customer center there a priority. But she said getting the depot fixed is the first priority. “We’ve got to worry about rehabbing the depot,” she said. “We’ve got to fix the structural problems.” Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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