Santa Monica still pursuing Eli Broad's museum
The Santa Monica City Council voted Tuesday evening to approve agreements in principle with the Broad Foundations. The 5-1 decision means the city has approved a preliminary framework that enumerates obligations for the city and Broad, but it doesn't mean that the museum will end up in Santa Monica.
Other locations in competition for Broad's museum include Beverly Hills and downtown L.A.'s Grand Avenue project.
Earlier this month, a report in the Architects Newspaper stated that Broad was set to choose Grand Avenue as the site for his museum. But a spokeswoman for the Grand Avenue Committee said Wednesday that the report was inaccurate.
In a statement, the spokeswoman said that preliminary environmental studies are underway to reflect changes in uses for the Grand Avenue project, "but this in no way indicates that a decision has been made."
The vote in Santa Monica concerning Broad's museum originally was scheduled to take place in January but was postponed until Tuesday in order for the city to meet with Broad and to further study the matter.
The city's agreements in principle include making 2.5 acres available in the Civic Center for the museum for 99 years at $1 per year. The city also said it would make a one-time $1-million contribution toward the museum design.
As stated in the agreement, the Broad Foundations estimate spending $50 million to $70 million for the design and construction of the museum, which is up from a previous estimate of $40 million to $60 million.
Santa Monica also wants the foundations to reimburse any city expenditures in the event that Broad chooses to locate the museum elsewhere.
The sole dissenting vote on Tuesday came from Councilman Bobby Shriver, who said in an interview that Broad's museum represents "a great opportunity, but the deal isn't right yet."
Shriver said he would like to see an enlarged role for the city in the oversight of the museum, including a greater say in the makeup of the museum board. Under the current model, the city wouldn't have the power to appoint people to the board for the next 100 years.
"It's not just about money -- it's the overall role of the city in this project," Shriver said.
Shriver also is pushing for more discussion on the issue of whether artwork from Broad's collection could be sold in the future to keep the collection fresh and relevant.
He said that the city should further study the relationship between the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and arts patron Donald Fisher in order to better assess the quality of Santa Monica's deal with Broad.
Rod Gould, the Santa Monica city manager, said in an interview that the council would further address Shriver's points and other concerns if Broad were to focus on Santa Monica as the site for the museum. He said the council will now wait for a decision from Broad before taking any other action.
The Broad Foundations have stated that a decision about the location of the museum would be announced sometime this spring.
-- David Ng
Photo: Eli Broad. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times