by Conor Friedersdorf
Tim Cavanaugh writes:
Eli Broad’s new agreement to build a downtown Los Angeles art museum gives the capricious billionaire and medieval patron of the arts what may be the sweetest rental deal of the century: a 99-year lease of a large parcel in downtown L.A. for a mere $7.7 million.
If that figure is accurate (more below), this means one of the 100 richest people on the planet is leasing a full block on Grand Avenue for $6,481.48 a month. The owner of the land (in this case, L.A.’s Community Redevelopment Agency) could have gotten more than that with four rental units.
Instead, L.A. taxpayers will be funding the creation of yet another art museum, as part of Broad’s long-term goal of bringing “culture” to a city full of actors, musicians, filmmakers, writers and artists.
Though I've been staying on the west side of Los Angeles, near its border with Venice, I've found myself hanging out in our revitalized downtown far more than I anticipated before moving back to California, and I'd probably go there even more frequently if the expensive subway system the city installed afforded a means of getting back and forth instead of being conspicuously absent from Santa Monica and its surrounding communities.
I can't say I endorse or object to another art museum, but I can attest that Southern California's various redevelopment agencies are rife with idiotic projects.
In Rancho Cucamonga, a prosperous community I used to cover for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, city officials were able to game the system by using redevelopment money and tax advantages to develop parcels that weren't blighted by any reasonable standard.