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Broad Art Museum Approved by CRA

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, July 15, 2010, at 12:30PM
Mayor and Eli Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and philanthropist Eli Broad speak to media at the groundbreaking of the Civic Center park, which took place just minutes before the CRA approved plans for Broad's art museum to be built two blocks away from the park site.

The city's Community Redevelopment Agency today unanimously approved plans to bring Eli Broad's art collection to a new museum on Grand Avenue.

The philanthropist told the agency's commissioners that he and wife Edythe had long wanted to "build a museum, fill it with contemporary art, and endow it so it will last."

"He's a dreamer," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa explained just before the meeting at a groundbreaking for the Civic Center park. "He actually comes up with the ideas and one of the many ideas he's come up with is making Grand Avenue a great cultural destination, a signature location ... for Los Angeles."

"We're really excited about the Broad museum," the Mayor continued.

The museum site is a surface parking lot located immediately south of the Disney Concert Hall and across Grand from the Colburn School and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

Jeffrey Deitch, the new director at MOCA, praised the Broad plan. "The works in the broad collection dovetail almost perfectly with the museum collection," he told the commissioners. He said that he hoped to work with the Broad Collection on a joint bookstore, and he said that the new parking garage atop which the museum will sit will solve "one of our biggest problems."

That garage will include 284 spaces and will bring the museum podium up to the level of Grand Avenue. The building itself will contain up to 120,000 square feet, of which 30,000 to 35,000 square feet will be dedicated to exhibition.

The structure of the agreement approved today is complicated, involving two ground leases, the sale of air rights, and a deal by which the redevelopment agency may end up repurchasing the parking garage component for up to $30 million. The CRA will be making an $8 million upfront payment to cover predevelopment expenses, and will also be paying for $2.4 million in public improvements.

Broad has been involved in many of the large projects taking place on Grand Avenue. He was a major backer of the Disney Concert Hall, a founder of MOCA and one of originators of the concept for the Grand Avenue Project.

Part of that last project is the renovation of the park that runs down Bunker Hill from the Music Center to City Hall. That work got underway today, even as the larger project by developer Related Companies is stalled in search of funding.

"Hopefully several years from now we're going to see a lot of our plan come together," Broad said at the groundbreaking. "This is an exciting day. It's a beginning."

While most speakers praised the project, one representative from Chinese dance group Shen Yun Performing Arts told the commisioners that he believed the site should be opened up for competitive bidding, and that his organization had sent letters to various elected officials and government entities expressing its desire to build a 3,000 seat theatre on the parcel.

The museum plan must next go to the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

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