CITY HALL — Following a two-month delay, the City Council is again set to approve a “deal in principle” to bring billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad’s proposed art museum to Santa Monica’s Civic Center.

The council had been scheduled to vote on the outline of a deal with the Broad Foundations in January before officials twice delayed a decision. In February, new City Manager Rod Gould told the council he wanted more time to review an agreement negotiated by his predecessor Lamont Ewell before asking the council to give its approval.

In an interview Friday, Gould said City Hall staff in the past month has analyzed the proposed deal and determined its terms compare favorably with other cities’ arrangements with arts institutions. Gould also negotiated revisions to some deal points included in the earlier version.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of making the case that it would benefit Santa Monica for decades to come to be the home of the Broad museum,” he said.

The museum would come with a $200 million endowment — one of the largest of any arts institution in the country — and would showcase Broad’s highly regarded, 2,000-piece modern art collection.

If the council on Tuesday approves the proposed agreement, as expected, it doesn’t necessarily mean the museum is a done deal. Broad is yet to announce where he intends to build the museum and continues to hold talks with Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

But Santa Monica officials are the first to have hammered out the terms of a potential partnership.

The new deal calls for the Broad Foundations to spend between $50 and $70 million — more than the $40 to $60 million Broad had previously pledged — to design and build a 30,000-square-foot museum on a 2.5-acre site next to the Civic Center.

In another change to the proposal, the agreement would expire after six months if Broad fails to begin developing the site.

“We don’t want to get too far down the road without Mr. Broad making a decision to focus on Santa Monica,” Gould said.

Under the deal, City Hall would contribute $2.7 million toward the museum by way of a $1 million payment for the museum’s design, $750,000 for site preparation, $900,000 for permitting and fees and $50,000 for off-site environmental mitigation.

City Hall would also lease the site to the Broad Foundations for 99 years for $1 per year. A City Hall report notes that the site would be worth more than $43 million if the land was zoned for commercial use, but “its value in the open market is negligible” because the general plan allows only open space and cultural uses on the lot.

“I hope Mr. Broad remains enthusiastic and I’m sure he recognizes our strengths,” said Councilman Richard Bloom.

The fact that the proposed deal is similar to the earlier version “means that our underlying assumptions were very sound and remain sound,” he said.

Bobby Shriver was the only council member to raise questions about the earlier proposal, and Gould said Shriver’s concerns were part of the reason he asked staff to carry out additional due diligence on the agreement.

On Friday, Shriver could not be reached for comment on the new proposal by presstime.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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