Art

Redevelopment Agency Gives Billionaire $52 Million for Art Project

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Even clip-art pedestrians are depressed by the latest steaming pile of postmodern whimsy dumped into downtown L.A.

It seems like it was just the day before yesterday I pointed out that multimillion-dollar redevelopment projects only happen where multimillionaires can get the benefit. But the Grand Avenue Project in downtown Los Angeles is a gift that keeps on giving for a billionaire – beloved patron of the arts Eli Broad. 

Last year we reported that L.A.'s Community Redevelopment Agency had given Broad a full city block atop a hill in downtown L.A., at a cost of one dollar a year, to house his personal art collection. 60 Minutes says Broad "sets the standard for philanthropy." That's one way of putting it. 

Now, the CRA is giving Broad another incentive to keep imposing his vision of a West Coast New York onto a part of town that doesn't need the help: a grant of $52 million to build a parking lot for The Broad Museum's hypothetical visitors. LA Weekly's Dennis Romero gives some background

Gov. Jerry Brown has been attempting to seize CRA money across the state for precisely this reason—that it's being misused.

Broad is building a museum as part of downtown's Grand Avenue redevelopment project. His venue would house his multimillion-dollar art collection. [Added]: Actually we're told a large segment of the building will be used for Broad's private foundation—only a portion of it will be open to the public. (Even better)…

Downtown city Councilwoman Jan Perry, who appears to us to be quite adept at giving public money to rich guys, was, of course, all for it, saying the 370-space garage would be paid for out of Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project funds.

The Grand Avenue Project is the kind broad-daylight swindle that can only happen when all the forces of evil line up. It's cheered on by the L.A. Times. It got unanimous approval from the City Council. The CRA is behind the whole thing, as are downtown neighborhood associations. International investors have cycled in and out of the development, many getting back on the bus as the project's total economic hopelessness becomes clear. It is based on the pipe dream of Eli Broad, who may or may not make frequent use of public transportation but is convinced that what L.A. really needs is "millions of people navigating a cleaner, denser and more pedestrian-friendly urban fabric via bicycle, light rail, streetcar, subway and bus." 

In this context, the Broad Museum will just be one more ugly building. But it's especially irksome for the civic inferiority complex it embodies. 

According to 60 Minutes, Broad "wants to transform that sprawling monster of a city Los Angeles into a cultural capital." Just to be clear: L.A., even in this period of severe decline, generates almost all of the movies, television and music made in this country. It is second only to the Bay Area as a home to video game developers. It is second only to New York in the volume of its live theater market. Yet somehow Los Angeles can't be a cultural capital until it has the artworks of Jeff Koons in a stupid-looking building? Of all the legitimate things L.A. could feel inferior about, it picks "culture"? 

NEXT: Chuck Colson Warns the Right: Ayn Rand Hated God

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  1. As someone moving to LA next week, it does strike me as odd that someone would think it lacks ‘culture.’ It might be a culture all its own, and lots of people might not like it, but to think there is a lack of such there is ignorant. Indeed, ignorance is one thing LA is absolutely saddled with it seems from reading Reason.

    1. I think it’s more that once you achieve a certain level of culture, you attract the kind of people who will always complain that it’s not cultured enough.

    2. Indeed, ignorance is one thing LA is absolutely saddled with it seems from reading Reason.

      I can’t tell if this sentence requires me to drink or not….

    3. I’m guessing you’re moving to LA because you do double-penetration and anal scenes? J/K.

      We have culture in LA, a whole fucking bunch actually. You gotta know though, LAers are allergic to being tagged elitist, intellectual, and cultured. Except for some incredibly small pockets, people here are pretty dumb and LOVE it. No one here talks about the art in the Getty, no, we talk about the views from the Getty. And that’s our culture. Also, you’d love the food!

      1. That’s exactly why LA has always been my favorite big city. People there define their culture to be whatever the hell they want. Nothing against New York, but we’ve got New York for that. LA is unique.

  2. Yet somehow Los Angeles can’t be a cultural capital until it has the artworks of Jeff Koons in a stupid-looking building?

    You know, upon reflection I find that you’re right. My collection and foundation are going to … Detroit!

  3. Can California sink into the ocean already?

    1. Perhaps we should introduce Eli Broad to Lex Luthor…

  4. “Urban Fabric” is just so much pretentious buttwipe.

    1. At least they didn’t call it a “vibrant urban fabric.”

  5. “Now, the CRA is giving Broad another incentive to keep imposing his vision of a West Coast New York onto a part of town that doesn’t need the help: a grant of $52 million to build a parking lot for The Broad Museum’s hypothetical visitors.”

    Parking lots are cash cows. They’re expensive to build with all that concrete and steel? But if you can charge people $2.00 an hour to park their car in a space that’s only 10′ by 4′?

    How much better is that than only being able to charge $3.00 PSF a month for office space–and in a parking lot, there’s no leasing commissions or TI’s too!

    There’s only one way to make a deal sweeter than that…

    Free money from the government to put it up! Yeee-Haaawww!

    So why doesn’t everybody just put up a parking lot?

    Because it’s really, really hard to get the planning commission or city council to approve parking lot construction–for a number of reasons.

    Eli Broad I guess doesn’t have that problem. They’re actually writing him a check? That would be hilarious if it weren’t so disgraceful.

    1. Try $2.00 per 15 minutes

    2. Parking lots are cash cows. They’re expensive to build with all that concrete and steel? But if you can charge people $2.00 an hour to park their car in a space that’s only 10′ by 4′?

      Parking in urban areas costs about 30k

      So at $2 an hour it will only take 15,000 hours of continues use to pay for it….

      Actually after doing the math that isn’t bad.

      I wonder if the 30k includes land costs?

    3. Because it’s really, really hard to get the planning commission or city council to approve parking lot construction–for a number of reasons.

      Wait, are you joking? You do realize that probably 99% of municipalities actually have minimum off-street parking requirements for new development, right? As long as you’re not trying to build it below 96th St. in Manhattan, a parking lot is damn near the easiest thing in America to build. Developers in dense places like NYC will in fact sometimes even include more parking than the zoning code requires or than they believe they’ll need just as a sop to the neighbors, whose number one gripe about all new development is parking.

      In fact, I don’t think it would be at all a stretch to say that American local planning codes are mostly designed is to ensure that nobody will ever have to pay the true market price for parking.

    4. $52M for 370 spaces. That’s $140,540 per space. That must be some mighty fine parking spaces Eli has dreamed up.

      1. We are building an 800 space parking garage on our campus right now. I can’t remember the exact cost right now without looking it up, but it is under 20M. And that’s building a heavy concrete structure in a swamp (cue MP&HG; jokes).

  6. Of all the legitimate things L.A. could feel inferior about, it picks “culture”?
    A much stronger alternative would be I was born there.

  7. …what L.A. really needs is “millions of people navigating a cleaner, denser and more pedestrian-friendly urban fabric via bicycle, light rail, streetcar, subway and bus.”
    Anything is good but the freedom of a privately owned and operated automobile, whether on two wheels or four, huh?
    I’m increasingly convinced it’s all about removing freedom. Surgically, if necessary.

    1. Can’t we get some heavy rail?

    2. No shit–what, Broad’s got no love for mopeds?

  8. Dear J Sub:

    This is what I was able to accomplish. Two Bowls (regrettably, no J Sub ashes), 4 1/3 shots of Jager, 1/2 a Dos Esquis, a huff of albuterol, 5 ibuprofin, one aspirin, the butt of a nasty fucking cigarette, a multivitamin, and some fish oil.

    1. greatest comment ever

  9. As in the link I posted on your last Cali RDA post LA is nothing but culture.
    The difference is >40 years ago I’d I’ve done anything to get there. Now, barring excessive compensation, I’d do anything to stay away.

  10. Woot! A Coke. Add another.

  11. And this is going on at a time when the LA city council is selling parking garages (which generate city revenue) to quickly free up extra cash.

    Broad already has a whole 3 story wing of LACMA to house his giant Richard Serra steel shape and his porcelain Michael Jackson/Bubbles; I’m sure another building housing the dregs of his collection that didn’t make it into LACMA will be just thing the city needs.

  12. Right on Tim — You should go one further: It is maniacal to let this guy say what culture is. His sense of culture is abstraction in sculptive and canvas form, which directs our attention away from the reality of a-holes like him stealing every thing they can.

    1. Politicians like pointing at BSOs–Big Shiny Objects. It supposedly justifies their existence.

      1. This. BSOs are so, um, revitalizing.

  13. This is all part of the civilization we buy with our taxes.

    1. I don’t suppose there is any chance of getting a refund.

  14. Jeeze, I wish I were in that big club that George Carlin liked to talk about. Life would be so much easier and enjoyable. Instead, I guess I have to settle for being hit over the head with it like most of us.

  15. Funny how when some redneck buys an SUV, he’s “compensating for something,” but when a rent-seeking bo-bo like Broad leverages a collossal building of dubious value, he’s a “philanthropist.”

  16. I THINK IT WOULD BE MORE ARTSY AND
    MORE VISIBLE TO ALL IF THE MONEY WERE
    SPENT ON MULTICOLORED POTHOLE REPAIRS
    AND BRIDGE REPAIRS!

  17. its really sad that this money is being given to a rich person. this money should be going to the poor people thaT HAVE NOTHING AND NEED HELP!

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