Historic Lankershim Depot gets extreme makeover

Metro today announced that it has completed a $3.6-million restoration of the historic Lankershim Depot near the Metro Orange and Red Lines in North Hollywood.

The train depot, originally built in 1896 and historically known as Toluca Southern Pacific Train Depot, has undergone a major transformation. About 70 percent of the original structure has been completely rehabilitated, with contractors completing a new building foundation and roof, electric and plumbing systems, platforms, signage and seismic upgrades. Metro contractors have also restored sidings, eaves, windows and doors.

Pacific Electric North Hollywood Station 1950-

The depot in 1950.

The three-room depot and outside platform area now has its original paint colors of mustard yellow and brown, and features a sign on the roof that reads “Southern Pacific-Pacific Electric Station” that harkens back to the early and mid 20th century when the depot primarily served as a passenger and freight rail stop.

The depot will remain unoccupied until Metro determines the best use for the property and finds a future tenant. The chosen tenant will then make its required renovations to the interior, as well as plant landscaping around the depot’s perimeter. Additional work upon occupancy will include the restoration of an adjacent park and rebuilding railroad tracks next to the station to provide the proper context for the building.

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Initial concepts for the re-use of the property include a bike hub, museum, coffee shop, restaurant or combination of those elements that provide the greatest public benefit.

When the depot becomes available for occupancy is dependent upon the construction schedule for Metro’s North Hollywood Station Underpass Project that will provide a safe, convenient underground connection between Metro’s Red Line and Orange Line stations — eliminating the need for riders to cross busy Lankershim Boulevard. Construction activities are now underway and the project is scheduled for completion in 2016.

The project now requires a portion of the depot property be used for construction staging as well as safe pedestrian access for transit riders walking between the Metro Orange and Red Lines. Metro may be able to get a tenant to occupy the depot earlier than 2016 by either clearing construction staging areas as soon as they are no longer needed, or by re-sequencing the planned restoration of a public park on the corner of the property.

Rendering showing what Lankershim Depot property will look like with planned public park.

The new depot also incorporates ADA requirements such as hand railing and ramp lighting.

Metro began its first phase of restoration work in 2010 with the removal of contaminated soils, roofing and lead-based paint throughout the structure, along with the stabilization of the historic exterior woodwork.

This latest phase of restoration for the depot’s exterior and foundation began in September 2013.  Metro utilized $2.5 million from Prop C half cent sales tax monies and $1.1 million from the city of Los Angeles. Restoration work was conducted by West Covina-based DRP National Incorporated under contract to Metro.

The Lankershim Depot is also part of 15.6-acre site in North Hollywood that is planned for future joint development.  Within the next several months, Metro plans to submit a formal request to the development community seeking information and qualifications to build a large mixed-use development on Metro-owned parcels in the area. The depot itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Any future developer will be required to accommodate the depot’s protected historic status in its development plans.

Other Metro transportation improvements are also planned for this area of the San Fernando Valley.  Besides the North Hollywood Underpass Project, Metro’s Universal City Station Pedestrian Bridge Project just one subway stop away has completed design and is headed into construction. The pedestrian bridge at the intersection of Lankershim Boulevard and Universal Hollywood Drive will provide a safe and convenient pedestrian crossing between the Metro Red Line Universal City Station and the Universal Studios Shuttle Stop. The bridge will also help alleviate traffic congestion in the area. Both projects are scheduled to be complete in 2016.

Restoration of the Lankershim Depot as well as underpass and bridge projects coincide with the ninth anniversary of the Metro Orange Line.  The nation’s premiere Bus Rapid Transit Line officially opened to the public on October 29, 2005.

Depot History

The Lankershim Depot was brought to its present-day site on rail cars and assembled by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1896, as the railroad built the first rail line through Toluca (North Hollywood). It is one of the few remaining wood-frame, 19th century railroad stations in Southern California. The depot started out as a high platform station for loading trains from a local packing plant and cannery industries and farms. In 1911 the Pacific Electric Company opened its line through North Hollywood and the station was incorporated into dual service by Southern Pacific and the Pacific Electric Red Car until the demise of the Pacific Electric in 1952.



23 replies

  1. Maybe a place for collecting people and sending them somewhere else…seems to a logical use.

  2. Are there any plans to refurbish the Metro’s subway cars? The exterior always looks like it needs a going over with barkeeper’s friend and the interior looks a lot older than it is – the off-white plastics and earth tones were a bad idea. Any plans to give it a color scheme in line with the new light rail livery? The cars stainless bodies never seem to be cleaned or polished. Why is that? Some of the stations are really ugly and depressing as well: dirty bare concrete, deposits that look like bird shit on the walls etc., it is as if some brutalist architect who hated transit used architecture to tell us how he feels about transit and the people who use it. Couldn’t you paint the concrete walls or install panels in bright colors. Bold primary and secondary colors work well in transit architecture

  3. Amazing! It has taken four years to restore this building and now two years possibly to construct the underpass across Lankershim. The Empire State Building was built in 15 months!

  4. Go to You Tube and search for “Lankershim Depot” and see what was proposed 2 years ago. This would be part of phase 3, tenant improvement.

  5. Please no restaurant chains. How about turning part of it into one of those hip eating and drinking establishments such as we see springing up all over Downtown? A Baco Mercat, or a Pete’s, for example, which are only a train ride away.

    • How about turning it into a train museum? Or, a transit store with timetables, places to buy tickets, clean RESTROOMS, bike storage, etc.

  6. $3.6M reno without prospective tenant or plan? This sounds like a metro staffers pet project gone way out of hand.

  7. Suggestion: Famima! Love having Famima! in Union Station. We don’t have one anymore in the Valley. I’d love to see them come back, and open in the Depot.

  8. Why the penetration “subway” under Lankershim? The Orange bus is planned to extend to Burbank Airport and with that extension the North Hollywood stop would be on the east side of Lankershim next to the Red Line entrance. When the bus is upgraded to an LRT line which it should have been from the start it will also continue east with the station next to the Red Line entrance.

    • Hey Alan;

      Fair enough point. The extension to Burbank Airport is just being studied. It’s not a funded project, at least for now.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. This location doesn’t need a restaurant or coffee shop. There already are restaurants and a coffee shop on the other side of Chandler Blvd, directly across from the subway station.

    To encourage more people to use transit who live within a two-mile radius of this transit hub, there needs to be a large secured bicycle parking facility. Its embarrassing that a coffee shop or restaurant would even be considered after Metro and the city spent $3.6 million to rebuild this train depot.

    • Better yet, just build a high rise condo right next to a station so you can just walk few steps to the station instead of driving or biking there.

  10. I hope that a cafe/coffee shop moves into the space, perhaps with copious commuter bike parking as well. A customer service center will likely be a waste of this beautiful space and lead it to feeling neglected. A cafe will provide constant pedestrian activity and be more welcoming to the general public. .

    • And a cafe will also create more jobs and bring in extra revenue into the city in forms of sales taxes. Remember, every half cent in sales taxes goes to fund Metro projects!

  11. Metro should indeed use this space as a customer service center for the valley. It’s convenient for travelers on Red, Orange and bus lines on Lankershim.

  12. “Initial concepts for the re-use of the property include a bike hub, museum, coffee shop, restaurant or combination of those elements that provide the greatest public benefit”

    Metro and the city of Los Angeles spent $3.6 million on a building that could be used for a commercial profit making retail chain like Starbucks or some other coffee shop or restaurant?

    What is needed for increased boarding’s for transit at this location is secured bicycle parking hub as the bicycle boxes at the subway station are all rented. But a potential bidder for a bicycle hub can’t compete financially against what a chain restaurant or coffee shop can bid.

    Metro is going to spend millions of dollars building another free car parking lot for patrons of the North Hollywood subway. But, evidently, its only a possibility that there will be more parking for bicycles available.

  13. Beautiful! It’s got the original Southern Pacific station colors! I agree, this should be the location for a Metro customer service center serving the SFV.

  14. So Nice this was saved for future Generations, Looks so Nice and Sharp once the Red-Orange Pedestrian Tunnel done this would be Ideal for an Information Stand and Metro Customer Service Center