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Feature Stories

Schroeder Hall to Become Police Facility

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 6

By Kirt Ramirez

Schroeder Hall
Photo by Kirt Ramirez

Mental Health America (MHA) and the City of Long Beach have come to an agreement regarding the old military Schroeder Hall property on Willow Street at Grand Avenue.

The military owns that property but no longer needs it and plans to hand it over to the city when certain conditions are met.

The city had wanted to convert the Schroeder property into a police station for some time, as the current Eastside substation on Los Coyotes is not ideal and is in need of refurbishment. In order for the city to get the Schroeder property, it must do something special under a federal rule; it must provide some sort of homeless accommodation.

Several years ago when nearby residents learned that homeless and mental health services might be coming nearby in addition to a police station, the idea did not sit well with many. Residents worried that inviting people who would use those services to the neighborhood would increase crime and other negative things.
It was never planned for the homeless to live onsite but to have a center they could go to during the day for support.

Nonetheless, residents didn’t like those plans. The topic has been debated for several years and now an agreement is in place that the city will not put such a center nearby after all – only a police substation.

To fulfill the homeless-accommodation federal requirement, the city will instead purchase a 28,237 square foot building on the other side of town at 1955-1965 Long Beach Blvd. The homeless and/or mentally ill can visit the center for guidance and job training. The property also will include high-quality retail and a place for everyone to sit and enjoy baked goods and a cup of coffee.

The city will purchase the building, lease it to MHA for 10 years and then convey the property to MHA. The city will pay $2.8 million for the building, and $1.2 million to fund related improvements to design and construct the retail establishment, a community meeting room, and tenant improvements and to provide programming.

Meanwhile, residents near the Schroeder facility are presumably happy that the down-and-out members of society will not be invited to the area but will instead be helped at a Long Beach Boulevard site.

There also is a property on Redondo Avenue that some mistake for being the Schroeder Hall but that is used as an Army National Guard facility and is not part of this discussion.

Tom Modica, director of government affairs and strategic initiatives for Long Beach, said in an e-mail that it had not yet been determined when the Los Coyotes east-side police station will move to Willow.

Mayor Bob Foster said in a statement, “I’m pleased that the city and MHA have come to a mutually beneficial agreement that will allow the development of the Schroeder Hall facility (on Willow Street) to move forward as our East Police Substation and provide much needed services to individuals struggling with mental illness and homelessness (at a Long Beach Boulevard facility).”

Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews and President and CEO of MHA David Pilon expressed pleasure in a press release.

“Mental Health America looks forward to serving the Long Beach community at the Long Beach Boulevard facility. This location will enable our organization to address important community needs by providing healthcare services to some of the most vulnerable members of the community,” Pilon said.

Regarding the Long Beach Boulevard property, Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske said, “I wish this had happened three years ago when I brought this property to the attention of the city manager and MHA. But now that it is happening it is a winning solution for all parties. Finally the city will be able to use Schroeder Hall for a police substation which will save the city a considerable amount because we will no longer have to pay rent for a facility.”