LA City Council Approves Transfer for Encino Community Center [Updated]

New ACF Center in Encino

Garcetti, Koretz, and Krekorian Lead Effort

ENCINO—On Tuesday, May 7 the Los Angeles City Council voted 10-0  to approve a motion directing the appropriate City Departments to negotiate a long term lease of surplus City property to the Armenian Cultural Foundation. The surplus property known as the former fire station number 83 is located in Encino on Balboa Boulevard, just North of Ventura Boulevard.  The former fire station is slated to be rehabilitated under the direction of the Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF), into a thriving community center providing much needed social, educational, youth and senior services to the entire West San Fernando Valley.

The City Council vote was an important first step toward securing the  long term lease to the ACF. After years of effort and close cooperation with the community toward achieving this goal, Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Paul Koretz co-presented a motion that was seconded by Paul Krekorian. All three elected officials played a crucial role in securing the property. Paul Koretz and his staff, whose district encompasses Encino  provided the local foundational support in identifying a viable property suiting the needs of a community center. Eric Garcetti, who has been a long standing advocate of the Armenian American Community both in his home district and within greater Los Angeles, provided the crucial support on the City Council to push the issue toward a timely vote. Paul Krekorian provided the vital logistical support within the city’s offices and departments to make the vote a possibility. Finally, all three elected officials worked together to ensure a swift unanimous vote on the City Council earlier this week.

With this lease the City will transform this neglected surplus property  which for the last six years has served as an eye-sore and nuisance to the local community into a productive community center saving the city significant maintenance costs. In the last six years despite regular maintenance to the facility, the structure had become attractive to squatters and vandals  raising additional public safety concerns and costs. Additionally, City Services had often been dispatched to clean graffiti from its exterior walls, sticking out in a relatively quiet residential area that is in close proximity to an elementary school and the Encino Park. After learning of the potential plans to rehabilitate the property, local residents have expressed their support, citing the problems the property has experienced in recent years.

Encino ACF representative Zohrab Kahwedjian stated “The background work that led to Tuesday’s successful vote was the culmination of nearly a four-year process. The ACF worked hand in hand with Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Paul Koretz to begin the arduous process of developing a public-private partnership between the City and the ACF chapter of Encino.”

When the opportunity to partner with the ACF and build a community center was presented, Councilman Paul Koretz recognized its potential which would provide vital services to the community. Importantly, over two years ago, these efforts also attracted the attention of Councilman Eric Garcetti whose district includes a thriving ACF community center in Hollywood. After learning of the hopes of creating another ACF Community center in Encino, Garcetti was the first to support the project early on and co-presented the City Council motion with Koretz, putting his entire weight behind the measure to ensure it came to fruition. Paul Krekorian, whose good standing and key positions in the City of Los Angeles seconded the motion and was vital to ensuring the vote’s unhampered success.

Tuesday’s vote serves as a milestone to lease the property. The specific language approved by the City Council directs the appropriate City departments to begin lease negotiations with the ACF. Moreover, the City Council has also determined that the provisions of the lease must include at a minimum a fifty-year term for one dollar a year. Such terms have been deemed reasonable to the City considering the amount of capital expenditures and investment the ACF will be providing to bring the property to a suitable condition and offer the full array of services to Encino and its surrounding communities. Precedent for such lease terms has been previously set between the City and other non-profit organizations for the same purpose, since the productive use of otherwise unusable City property to improve local communities will benefit the City as a whole. The motion calls for the long term lease to be presented to the Council within sixty days before the property is formally handed over to the ACF.

The new community center will become a beacon for the local community and the new home of the ACF of Encino. The ACF is slated to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to remediate, remodel and rehabilitate the property and transform it into a thriving community center. Moreover, the ACF plans to furnish the property with meeting rooms, office space and staff to provide the appropriate infrastructure to run its community based services.

“We are excited for this opportunity to provide a community center in Encino” said Kahwedjian adding , “we look forward to working with the city to finalize this lease and begin the process of building a flourishing community center for generations to come.”

Once a lease has been presented for consideration, Asbarez will report back on the Council’s final vote on the matter.

The Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF) of Encino was founded in 1976 and is a non profit 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. The ACF operates exclusively for educational and charitable objectives by establishing cultural and educational centers throughout California and the United States advancing its charitable work through its more than 15 local chapters throughout the Western United States.

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