A member of the Los Angeles City Council is the latest elected official to propose a creative reuse of the beleaguered St. Vincent Medical Center in Westlake.
The hospital - which dates to the 1850s - occupies a nearly 10.5-acre site at the northwest corner of 3rd and Alvarado Streets. Its owner since 2015, the non-profit provider Verity Healthcare, declared bankruptcy two years ago, and has been unable to find a buyer for its portfolio of six acute care facilities.
With the closure of the hospital likely to come before the end of January, City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell - who represents a portion of the Westlake community - has introduced a motion which calls for the City of Los Angeles to explore the feasibility of purchasing and repurposing the hospital as interim or permanent supportive housing, with wrap-around services such as substance abuse assistance and rehabilitation services.
"To preserve [the hospital's] core mission of providing care for vulnerable individuals that began in 1956, the buildings could possibly be repurposed to address the homeless housing crisis and the lack of mental health services," reads O'Farrell's motion. "Repurposing the facilities could greatly reduce the cost per unit and take advantage of existing infrastructure that is time consuming and costly to build."
O'Farrell recommends working with California Governor Gavin Newsom to identify state-owned properties for similar opportunities through the development of the state's 2020-2021 budget process.
This is not the first time a Los Angeles official has seen opportunity in the St. Vincent property. Last year, County Supervisor Hilda Solis proposed that Los Angeles County should pay up to $120 million to purchase the hospital campus, but for the purpose of reusing it for outpatient medical care rather than interim and supportive housing.