If you were on the Esotouric bus on September 7, you were probably just as horrified as I was to see the French Hospital behind demolition fencing.
|Demolition fencing at the French Hospital. Photo courtesy of Esotouric.|
That's never good news in a city that loves any reason to erase its own history.
I've been checking for demolition permits every single day, dreading bad news. No demolition permits have been issued for 531 West College Street.
However, lack of a permit doesn't prevent demolition. I had to be sure.
I reached out to Munson Kwok, who is on the board of the Chinese American Museum and knows Chinatown like no one else I have ever met. If something is going on in Chinatown, Munson probably knows about it.
Munson assures me that the French Hospital isn't going anywhere.
The hospital site's new owner is Allied Pacific IPA, an HMO based in Alhambra. They are in the process of converting the building into an urgent care center. Because urgent care centers don't admit overnight patients, they are subject to fewer seismic standards (and a much less costly renovation).
Munson spoke to Allied Pacific's CEO and founders recently at an event. One of them is an old friend of his. If he trusts them, then so will I.
Apparently, the Department of Building and Safety has some issues with the parking lot and the front of the building. This has caused the conversion to drag on for longer than planned.
Allied Pacific hopes to have the urgent care center open in October - and, to Munson's knowledge, doesn't plan to replace the building, just rehabilitate it.