It now looks as if the museum Eli Broad wants to build to house his 2,000-piece contemporary art collection is going to land in Santa Monica or at Grand Avenue and 2nd Street in downtown Los Angeles, literally a stone's throw from Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Culture Monster received this notice of surrender just now from a city spokeswoman in Beverly Hills, saying the city has "other project priorities" for its money than buying Broad a site for his museum.
"The Beverly Hills City Council has confirmed that it has concluded discussions with The Broad Art Foundation regarding the potential site of a museum at the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. As part of upcoming discussions on the adoption of the City’s fiscal year 2010-2011 budget, the Council will be reallocating to other project priorities the funds it had set aside for the potential acquisition of the property," the press release said.
"In a letter to Eli Broad, Beverly Hills City Manager Jeff Kolin said, 'While our City Council remains convinced that Beverly Hills offers an attractive location for your renowned art collection, we understand that The Broad Art Foundation is now considering other locations.'
"Kolin went on to say that should alternate sites not come to fruition, the City remained open to further partnership discussions."
We'll check with Broad or his art foundation minions in a moment and let you know what they have to add.
[Update, 6:15 p.m.] Broad has said the point of having multiple irons in the fire for his museum site is that competition between municipalities would ensure that bureaucratic red tape is minimized and planning moves ahead swiftly. Will Beverly Hills' dropping out increase the chances that the Santa Monica City Council and officials in charge of L.A.'s Grand Avenue Project could draw out the process and drive harder bargains because there's less competition to worry about?
"We're still interested in an expeditious process and decision," said Karen Denne, spokeswoman for the Broad Art Foundation. "All three locations had challenges, but we've still got two viable options." She said Broad still expects to decide the museum site by the end of spring.
— Mike Boehm
Photo: Eli Broad. Photo credit: Los Angeles Times