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Eli Broad's museum gets City Council OK; two more agency approvals needed

August 6, 2010 |  3:35 pm

BroadMuseumSiteLawrenceKHoThe Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved Eli Broad’s downtown museum Friday, a step closer for the estimated $80-million-to-$100-million structure to house 2,000-plus contemporary artworks he and his wife Edythe have collected.

The council’s 14-0 vote certified last month’s vote by commissioners of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, changing the original 2007 development plan for the Grand Avenue Project to add the museum to the front half of a parcel at Grand Avenue and 2nd Street that was to have been for condominium towers.

The Broad Collection, as it is tentatively called, next needs approval from the county Board of Supervisors and the Joint Powers Authority, a panel of local and state officials that oversees the Grand Avenue Project. But Broad’s spokeswoman, Karen Denne, said he still has not ruled out Santa Monica’s competing offer of a rent-free, city-owned site next to the Civic Auditorium.

“He needs to know that the project is possible on Grand Avenue before he decides between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles,” she said.

Both deals call for a $200-million endowment Broad will provide to cover the museum’s operating expenses. In Los Angeles, he would provide an additional $22 million to build a 284-space parking garage beneath the museum. Most of the spaces would be for general public use, and the city redevelopment agency, which asked that it be built, would repay him over time and eventually become the garage’s owner.

Though the museum would receive a 99-year lease on its site at $1 per year, Broad has satisfied Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s earlier objections to a rent-free deal by agreeing to pay what a county consultant calculated to be the lease’s market value: $7.7 million, which the redevelopment agency intends to use to help the Grand Avenue Project’s developer, Related Cos., include affordable housing in its planned condo developments.

City officials and other backers hope that the Broad Collection will not only draw visitors downtown but provide a kick-start to the stalled Grand Avenue Project. Amid the economic downturn, Related has been unable to secure the financing to proceed with the rest of the $3 billion in residential, commercial and cultural buildings called for in the plan.

The Grand Avenue Project’s success would help the museum financially. Under a complex agreement with the redevelopment agency, the museum would receive about $10.5 million of the estimated $30 million in required developers’ payments for public art and culture that a $3-billion Grand Avenue project would generate. The money would materialize only as each building goes up and the developer pays the arts fees of 1% of each structure’s design and construction cost.

As it did last month at the meeting of the redevelopment commissioners, Shen Yun Performing Arts briefly presented its counter-proposal for the museum site: a 3,000-seat theater and high-rise residential tower to house students training as performers for its globally touring dance presentations that incorporate traditional Chinese styles and modern stagecraft, while also reflecting political and spiritual tenets of the Falun Gong religious movement that is banned in China.

Shizhong Chen, a spokesman for Shen Yun’s Los Angeles planning group, said after the hearing that it will continue to try to make its case before the Board of Supervisors and the Joint Powers Authority that adding its center to the Grand Avenue Project would be a cultural and economic boon to the city. If it fails to persuade them, he said, “at that point we will evaluate our options. Maybe we’ll deal with other great cities. Los Angeles is not the only great city.”

-- Mike Boehm and David Zahniser

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Photo: Site of the Broad Collection museum. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times


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