The Eastsider L.A. poses the tantalizing possibility that the old Lincoln Heights Jail could be converted to loft spaces. (I'm waiving all rights to jokes and puns here to cut to the chase.) The under-employed jail, whose storied cells have been home to Minsky's burlesque queen Betty Rowland, a young Bing Crosby and the ever-intoxicated Raymond Chandler, hasn't been used for its original purpose since 1965. Since then it's been the site of many a low-budget movie shoot and large-scale art exhibitions. Its coastal cousin, the much smaller Venice lockup, was converted decades ago to an arts and theater center, which is actually one scenario for the Lincoln Heights venue. After all, the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts has been there since the 1980s (along with a boxing gym) and has done just fine drawing in audiences to the desolate stretch of Avenue 19.
One daunting problem facing the jail's reincarnation as a living space
is the industrial neighborhood's lack of amenities — forget having a
nearby Trader Joe's, just getting cigarettes would become a wearying
hassle. On the other hand, Chinatown isn't that far away, and Goodwill
and St. Vincent de Paul have major thrift-store outlets nearby — just
the places that young loft dwellers seeking affordable Mid Century
furnishings would be looking for. Another idea being floated is to use
the space as a learning facility.