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Eli Broad's art museum could get public funding; competing Shen Yun group says it can't get a fair hearing

July 30, 2010 | 12:43 pm

BroadMuseumSiteLawrenceKHo Here are a couple of interesting new wrinkles in the saga of Eli Broad's bid to plant his art collection in a museum on Bunker Hill, within football-throwing distance of both Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

First, a check of the fine print to the deal that L.A.'s Community Redevelopment Agency OKd two weeks ago -- the first of four governmental approvals needed for the museum to go forward -- shows that the estimated $100-million structure may not be built entirely with Broad's own money, after all.

The deal that CRA/LA commissioners approved on a 4-0 vote calls for Broad's museum to get a rebate of public funds that could exceed $10 million -- although exactly how much it would get, and when, depends on the hard-to-predict timetable and construction costs for the rest of the Grand Avenue project. That estimated $3-billion commercial, residential and cultural development plan has been stalled by the bad economy.

Under longstanding redevelopment agency policy, developers pay 1% of their projects' design and construction costs into a fund to create artworks or cultural facilities that benefit the neighborhood. Broad's deal calls for him to get 40% of the arts levy for three other parcels in the Grand Avenue project, 20% of the total for a fourth, and 40% from another, nearby CRA/LA property that was originally supposed to be developed in the 1980s California Plaza project, but remains unused.

Meanwhile, the Shen Yun Performing Arts group, which covets the same 2nd Street and Grand Avenue site where the Broad museum is supposed to go, hasn't given up trying for an eleventh-hour reconsideration of how that land should be used.

Shen Yun held a news conference Thursday a block west of the projected museum site, saying L.A. officialdom has stonewalled its effort to get a fair hearing. Shen Yun, which has close ties to the Falun Gong religious movement that is banned in China, wants to build a 3,000-seat theater for its dance performances -- a blend of traditional Chinese styles and technological spectacle -- and a 454-foot-high residential tower as a dorm for students who would learn the Shen Yun method, then join the group's global touring troupes.

After the news conference, Shen Yun spokesmen told The Times they suspect the Chinese government is trying to pressure L.A. officials and the business community to block the plan -- a notion that L.A. councilwoman Jan Perry and Related Cos., the Grand Avenue project's developer, sharply dismissed.

For the full story on the Broad museum rebates, click here; for more on Shen Yun, click here.

-- Mike Boehm

Photos: The site where Eli Broad wants to build a museum to house his art collection is now a parking lot. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times.

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