CITY HALL — Negotiations to bring a contemporary art museum financed by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad to Santa Monica’s civic center are close to complete, several city officials said Wednesday.
The terms of the agreement would require approval from the City Council, which could vote on the museum deal as early as Tuesday.
“I feel that the vast majority of issues have been discussed thoroughly and agreed to,” City Councilman Bob Holbrook said.
The museum agreement had not been placed on the council’s agenda for next week by press time Wednesday, but Holbrook said the only remaining sticking point was the legal language locking in the museum’s endowment.
“It’s my understanding that we’re going to have a staff report on the agenda for next Tuesday [that will] make a recommendation to us on a variety of deal points for moving forward on the project,” said Councilman Richard Bloom.
If approved by the council, the agreement with the Broad Foundations would be a major win for City Hall, which since November has been competing with Beverly Hills to attract the museum. A third, undisclosed location for the museum also has reportedly been in the running.
Neither City Manager Lamont Ewell nor a spokeswoman for the Broad Foundations could be reached for comment on the museum negotiations Wednesday.
In Beverly Hills, City Hall Spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett said she wasn’t aware of any new developments in negotiations with the Broad Foundations, but added, “It’s my understanding that we continue to pursue the potential opportunity of the Broad museum here in Beverly Hills.”
The Santa Monica officials who spoke about the museum talks on Wednesday were clearly pleased it appeared City Hall was close to a deal on the project, but were cautious about declaring victory.
“Until everybody is in complete agreement it’s still an aspiration,” Bloom said. “But when it comes to fruition it’s absolutely huge for Santa Monica and for the region.”
Holbrook said he’s been confident Santa Monica would prevail since he spoke privately with Eli Broad last month and shook hands on the project.
The museum would become home to a 2,000-piece contemporary art collection featuring names like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Andy Warhol.
Terms of the potential deal have not been made public, but Holbrook said City Hall would likely agree to contribute at most $3 million to the project in site preparation costs and fee waivers. The proposed location for the project is a 2.5 acre, city-owned lot located between the Santa Monica Courthouse and the Civic Auditorium that would be leased to the foundation for a nominal amount.
The Broad Foundations — made up of the Broad Art Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation — would cover the rest of the construction costs and would contribute an endowment in the hundreds of millions of dollars that would amount to one of the largest donations to the arts in Southern California history.