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Subway Extension May Leave Galleries Hanging

By Josh Premako, 4/05/2012

Sites on Wilshire Selected as Staging Area

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The extension of the Purple Line under Wilshire Boulevard will bring more mass transit access to Miracle Mile, but will likely displace at least three galleries on Museum Row.

Metro is looking to build a subway station construction staging area at the site of the A + D Museum and two galleries. )photo by Josh Premako)

Plans call for a subway station to be built near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) is recommending obtaining and razing three abutting buildings to have a staging area for construction.

In the shadow of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the buildings are home to Edward Cella Art + Architecture, the A+D architecture museum and the Steve Turner Contemporary gallery. All three would be displaced by the construction that could start by early 2014.

A recommendation to acquire the property — either through an outright purchase or a lease — is set to go before the Metro board later this month.

Staging areas are usually between 1-3 acres and are used to store construction equipment and materials and, as the name suggests, stage construction activity.

It’s necessary for a staging area to be adjacent to the subway station site, said Jody Litvak of Metro’s community relations department.

“We’re going to try and be as sensitive as we can be,” she said. “There’s no such thing as immaculate construction.”

Edward Cella said he moved his 6-year-old gallery to Wilshire Boulevard from Santa Barbara because of the proximity to museums. Cella’s gallery, which specializes in dealer drawings by 20th Century architects, is next to the Petersen Automotive Museum and directly across from LACMA.

“This is one of the most beautiful parts of Los Angeles,” he said. “That made it very attractive. I’m also aware of the importance of the project. It’s a little bittersweet.”

Cella said his primary focus is running his gallery. Secondary, he said, is thinking ahead to potential relocation plans.

“It’s unfortunate, and at a time when the arts are so critical to the cultural amenities of the city,” he said. “This has been a little haven.”

Cella stressed that his landlord, the Sieroty Co., has been very supportive through the process. A Sieroty representative did not return calls by early Wednesday afternoon.

Metro will provide relocation assistance for affected businesses, Litvak said.

“We work with everybody differently,” she said, and added she could not confirm if financial help is part of the assistance.

Because the Fairfax station is in the first phase of the Purple Line extension, the property acquisition process could start sometime this year, Litvak said. That process will include an independent property appraisal and purchase negotiations, she said.

Eminent domain proceedings would be a last resort, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said.

The Fairfax station construction may last roughly five to seven years, Litvak said. Once it’s complete, Metro would likely sell the property, she said.

The details will get worked out in the next year or so, she added.

The gallery location is one of three suggested options for a station, Litvak said. The others are adjacent to the Johnie’s Coffee Shop building at the intersection of Wilshire and Fairfax, or in the lobby of the former May Co. building at the same intersection — an unlikely option that is far more difficult and expensive than the other two, she said. Additionally, Metro is proposing a staging area adjacent to the Johnie’s building, which would take up a parking lot and the location of a Marinello’s beauty school.

 

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