CITY HALL — In what could be a significant step toward bringing a world class art museum to Santa Monica’s Civic Center, City Council on Tuesday will vote on the outline of a development agreement for the project with the Broad Foundations.
Philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad are looking for a site to construct a museum to display a 2,000-piece contemporary art collection that features more than 200 artists. The couple’s foundations are expecting to spend between $40 and $60 million to design and build the facility and will create a $200 million endowment to cover the museum’s long-term expenses.
The proposed agreement between City Hall and the Broad Foundations does not mean Santa Monica has been selected as the site for the project, said Karen Denne, a spokeswoman for the Broad Foundations. Beverly Hills and an undisclosed location are also reportedly still in the running. The L.A. Weekly reported that Culver City was the third location, but others have said Los Angeles is in the running.
“We’re still considering three locations. We’re encouraged by Santa Monica’s willingness to work with us on this project and we look forward to making a final decision this spring,” Denne said.
Negotiations on the project, though, appear to have advanced further with Santa Monica than with the other two jurisdictions.
“We are gratified to have moved to this stage,” Santa Monica City Manager Lamont Ewell said on Thursday. “Assuming council supports the proposed principles next Tuesday, we will continue to work with the Broad Foundations in hopes of translating these principles into a development agreement that, when signed, would be binding on both parties.”
City Councilman Richard Bloom said bringing the outline of an agreement to a vote is an important step but doesn’t mean the museum is a done deal.
“I’m not in a position to know who the front runner is or isn’t,” he said. “I think only Mr. Broad would know that.”
But he added: “I can tell you that I don’t think we would see this as an agenda item unless the city manager felt that we were in the final stages, if not the final stage” of a deal.
The proposed terms of the agreement call for City Hall to lease a 2.5 acre site next to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to the museum for a nominal fee and to contribute $2.7 million to the project, including $1 million to cover design costs.
The Broad Foundations would be committed to hiring a “world-class architect” to design the project, spending at least $40 million on construction and creating at least 30,000-square-feet of exhibition space.
If the council approves the proposed agreement outline, city staff and the Broad Foundations would begin the entitlement and environmental review processes. If the Broad Foundations were to pull out of the agreement and take the project to another city, the Broads would have to compensate City Hall for its expenses related to the project plans.