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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GALLERIES’ SURVIVAL THREATENED BY RAILWAY EXPANSION PLANS



Galleries’ survival threatened by railway expansion plans
Uncertainty surrounds future of Santa Monica arts centre

By Carren Jao. News, Issue 235, May 2012
Published online: 27 April 2012

The expansion of the new Exposition Light Rail (Expo) connecting downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica means major changes to the Bergamot Station Arts Center, a 7.4-acre complex that houses 35 galleries in several metal-clad industrial buildings. An 18-year-old art space is being threatened with destruction and gallery owners worry they could be pushed out by rising rents when the new railway stop opens in 2015.

Track 16, a 12,000 sq. ft art space, is due to be torn down to make way for a platform as early as August. “We’re being put out of business basically,” says the owner Tom Patchett, who co-funded the development of the Bergamot Station complex in 1994. He feels that the city has done little to ensure the gallery’s continued operation. “We’re being kicked out because they need this property, but we’re not being relocated within a similar community. If we go elsewhere, we can’t do what we’re doing now.”

The additional rail stop is projected to bring in about 3,500 people to Bergamot Station every day. The Santa Monica city council has given preliminary approval to a plan that would add, among other things, an 88-room hotel and a “signature” building to house the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA). The $54m plan adds about 167,000 sq. ft for existing and new building. The city hopes to increase the $600,000 it receives from existing leases on the property and is searching for a developer.

The plan has been met either with cautious optimism or outright opposition from gallery owners, who have taken part in seven community meetings over the past year. “This plan is only a suggestion. We have no idea what we’re going to be getting,” says Carol Kleinman, the co-owner of TAG Gallery, who worries that galleries will be replaced by higher-paying commercial tenants.



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