DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The Community Redevelopment Agency last week increased funding for Eli Broad’s art museum by $22 million in order to build a larger parking facility, a public plaza and widen sidewalks on Grand Avenue. The new plan, which the City Council is expected to take up this week, bumps the CRA’s contribution to $52 million.

The plan, approved by the CRA Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Jan. 20, involves stretching the Broad museum footprint so that it encompasses the entire parcel bounded by Grand Avenue, Second and Hope streets and Gen. Thaddeus Kosciusko Way. The plan that the CRA approved last July envisioned a $30 million, three-level garage that occupied about half of the parcel.

The portion of the land that would have remained empty is tentatively slated for future development as part of the stalled $3 billion Grand Avenue plan. Related Cos., which has development rights for the parcel and several others along Grand Avenue, could still build on the site in the future, on top of the expanded garage.

Until Related is ready to move forward with any plan for the parcel, however, the top of the expanded garage will be landscaped and connected to a new plaza south of the museum, said David Riccietello, CRA regional administrator for the Downtown area.

The larger garage will create 370 spaces, up from the previous 284, and will allow for more efficient circulation and pedestrian access to the museum, Riccietello said.

Under the approved funding plan, Broad will pay for the construction of the garage, plaza and sidewalk improvements, which have an estimated price tag of $46.5 million (he’ll also cover the $100 million museum to be called The Broad). The CRA will pay Broad $8 million in advance, and another $22 million upon completion of the garage, according to a CRA report. The agency will then pay Broad back $3 million a year from Bunker Hill tax increment funds.

Thursday’s meeting came as the agency looks to protect nearly $1 billion in future revenues from Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies and repurpose tax increment dollars for core services such as schools and public safety.

Riccietello said any sense of urgency driving the change in the project stems from Broad’s desire to start as soon as possible. Broad has said he hopes to begin construction by April and open the building in early 2013.

However, Jim Dantona, deputy to CRA Chief Executive Officer Chris Essel, confirmed that the move also aligns with the agency’s short-term effort to ensure its funding plans are made official through various contracts. Brown’s proposal would not touch CRA funds that are already contractually obligated.

Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at

page 9, 01/24/2011

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