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City begins work to turn old central library into homeless shelter

San Diego's former central library sits vacant as city leaders decide how to redevelop the facility, Feb. 16, 2015.
Matthew Bowler
San Diego's former central library sits vacant as city leaders decide how to redevelop the facility, Feb. 16, 2015.

After years of debate, the city of San Diego is taking initial steps to convert the old downtown library building into a homeless shelter.

Mayor Todd Gloria’s office said the city has begun “modest preparations” to repurpose the building — including minor renovations, repairs and electrical work.

The library, which has sat vacant for the past nine years, has drawn attention from advocates who have pressed the city to use the building to house unsheltered people.

Those requests had been turned down for reasons including inadequate heating in the winter and a potentially high cost of renovation.

One notable obstacle that stood in the way of potential repurposing is an obscure 1899 deed restriction on the building, which states that the property must include a reading room.

Now, the city said it’s hoping to have a portion of the building ready for use as a shelter this winter.

Voice of San Diego reporter Lisa Halverstadt joined Midday Edition on Monday with more on the story.

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