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Federal courthouse finally getting underway in downtown LA

The 1930's-era Federal Courthouse in downtown L.A. is scheduled to be replaced by 2016.

Downtown Los Angeles is one step closer to getting a new federal courthouse. But it isn’t quite the real estate swap everyone had in mind.

There’s been an empty lot at First and Broadway since an old state building was torn down nearly half a dozen years ago.  Now, the government’s building manager, the General Services Administration, has awarded a contract to Clark Construction to build a new federal courthouse on the site by 2016.

The half-million square-foot “sustainable” facility will include security upgrades not available at the 1930’s-era courthouse on Spring Street. The GSA had hoped to persuade a developer to take the old courthouse in exchange for building the new one.

That didn’t happen. Instead, the GSA is “soliciting creative development ideas” for the old building.

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank applauded the decision, saying L.A. has "one of the largest and busiest caseloads in the nation." Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer adds that the project will create "much-needed construction jobs in Los Angeles."

Republican Congressman Jeff Denham of Fresno, a longtime critic of the new courthouse, says the Spring Street offer is “one more step in ridding the federal government of unneeded property.”