July 7, 2005
On June 21, Southern California Institute
of Architecture (SCI-Arc) lost its legal battle over who had
the right to buy its historic Santa Fe Freight Depot where
the school has been housed for five years. A Los Angeles Superior
Court judge found that the contract established between SCI-Arc
and the building owner, Dynamic Builders Inc., was not binding.
The courts ruling allows Los Angeles developer Richard
Meruelo to purchase the building. Meruelo is also moving forward
with developing adjoining parcels of land that he owns. One
of Meruelos original proposals for the site had included
two large residential towers, but a story in the Los
Angeles Times quoted him as saying he is not wedded
to that idea, and wants to build a project that would be urban,
dense and bold.
SCI-Arc has a 19-year lease on the building and doesnt
intend to move, say school officials. SCI-Arc was put
there [downtown] to reinvigorate the area, says school
director and Culver City architect, Eric Owen Moss. Since
weve been there land values have skyrocketed.
Moss says that prior to Meruelos bid for the property,
and the subsequent lawsuit, SCI-Arc had produced a conceptual
plan for the redevelopment of the area. Its not clear
whether any of the institutes ideas will be implemented
in Meruelos development but both parties have seemed
to put hostilities aside long enough to agree to work together
on a new plan.