CITY HALL — There’s still no guarantee Eli and Edythe Broad will choose to build their planned modern art museum in Santa Monica’s Civic Center, but on Tuesday the City Council signed off on the basics of what a potential agreement to bring the facility to town would look like.

Under the approved “agreement in principle,” City Hall would contribute $2.7 million to the museum, would pledge to expedite the project’s planning and entitlement process and would lease the proposed site for the building — a 2.5-acre lot next to the Civic Auditorium — to the Broad Foundations for a 99-year term at $1 per year.

If the Broads select Santa Monica over Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, which are in the running, they would be required to spend between $50 and $70 million to build the museum, which would include at least 30,000 square feet of gallery space, and would create a $200 million endowment to fund the museum’s operations.

The tenative deal expires after six months if the Broads fail to identify Santa Monica as their preferred site.

The council approved the deal guidelines by a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Bobby Shriver opposed.

Shriver criticized several aspects of the deal, saying the city was giving up too much in an attempt to attract the Broads.

“I don’t think the deal is smart enough yet in the city’s point of view,” he said.

He pointed out the deal does not allow City Hall to appoint a member of the museum’s governing board, does not state how the Broad’s art collection will be managed in the decades after Eli Broad’s death and allows the Broads to construct 80,000 square feet of office and archival space on City Hall-owned land in addition to the museum’s publicly accessible display space.

“I’ve heard from the community that they want an art [museum] but I haven’t heard that we need to make [a sub par] deal,” he said.

Though she supported the museum plan, Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor said she shared Shriver’s concerns about the lack of a City Hall-appointed museum board member and uncertainty as to how the art collection would be managed in the long-term.

Addressing those concerns, City Manager Rod Gould said the “agreement in principle” establishes general guidelines for a potential deal and doesn’t cover all aspects of the possible partnership. He said if the Broad’s select Santa Monica as the museum site, City Hall will bring in additional lawyers to finalize the agreement. Any final development agreement for the museum would have to win the council’s approval, he said.

Appearing on behalf of the Broad Foundations, attorney Deborah Kanter said council members shouldn’t be concerned the Broad’s will try to minimize gallery space in favor of expanding the square-footage of the office component, which will house the foundation’s headquarters.

“The goal is to maximize the gallery space — that’s the purpose of this,” she said.

Once completed, the museum would showcase the Broads’ 2,000-piece collection, which includes works by artists including Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein.

Before his vote in favor of the museum, Councilman Kevin McKeown said he was enthusiastic about the possibility of bringing the Broad museum to Santa Monica, though the finer points of a potential final deal still have to be ironed out.

“We have to remember where we are in the process,” he said. “We are tonight entering into a six-month engagement, we’re not signing a contract to marry.”

nickt@www.smdp.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *