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Development, Opinion, Letters To The Editor, Santa Monica

Letter To The Editor: The Bergamot Station Arts Center Is Worth Preserving

Posted May. 11, 2014, 9:42 am

Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

The Bergamot Station Arts Center is yet another planned development project. Santa Monica has one of the premier arts centers in Southern California. It’s successful, it has character, it has style, and it has passionate art gallery and theatre operators. It’s worth preserving!

So, that means City staff will try to find a way to destroy that uniqueness and add a hotel, offices & retail to the complex. The Gallery owners know that the redevelopment of the Bergamot Arts Center will lead to their demise. The easy, free surface parking that exists now will leave. Parking will either be underground or off premises. A 6 story Hotel will be added to the Arts Center, the City Garage theatre will have to leave and an entrance created to handle the Expo line foot traffic.

As always we haven’t thought through the plans or ramifications to the Gallery owners, atmosphere of the Center or the impact on residents. A lot of this translates into something that many residents discuss all the time.

It's called infrastructure. That must come first. In film terms we do a great job in Santa Monica with construction production...we forget about proper pre and post production. Parking is integral to the success of the galleries, the retention of the City Garage theatre and the retention of the existing buildings. It’s also essential to the success of the adjacent Expo station. We shouldn’t be adding unnecessary turmoil to a successful section of our town.

The residents weren't looking for a mini Hines Project. We just stopped the one across the street. It feels like the residents are playing whack-a-mole with developments now. The off site parking is paramount. Green space as part of this project is paramount. A welcoming open arms rail station and gallery complex is paramount.

As residents we are tired of hearing about hotels. But if a hotel is something that enhances the complex and does not destroy the charm of the Bergamot Arts Center then it must have a maximum height of 50 feet. The Ambrose and Shore Hotels are good examples.

One last thing, nobody in our city government has given any great reasons for this redevelopment of the Bergamot Arts Center. It would seem that we shouldn’t touch something unless it’s broke…this center isn’t broken.

Phil Brock

Santa Monica

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Comments

May. 11, 2014, 12:03:05 pm

Gregg Heacock said...

Phil, I agree entirely, but I am struck by the irony in what might be a misprint in your last line, as directed at the City: "It would seem that we shouldn’t touch something unless it’s broke…this center isn’t broken." The City acts as though "it's broke," which is why it demands of those responding to their requests for proposals that plans include shared parking and a hotel, both of which work against any plan for that area being successful. Until the City has a circulation plan for parking for the Expo and hubs for public transportation that do not compromise the integrity and survival of what we say we want to preserve, we will continue to exacerbate the problem rather than advance a solution. The Bergamot Arts Center is not broken, but it could be. Handle with care.

May. 11, 2014, 2:01:57 pm

Perla Grey said...

Read the documentation. Bergamot Station is an under-performing asset. It was purchased for the specific purpose of RAIL use, not arts use. They are not talking about destroying the arts community, but about using the property for it's intended purpose, which will benefit far more people.

May. 11, 2014, 4:52:15 pm

Karen Croner said...

Let's make sure the Expo station only helps the art dealers. Doesn't hurt them. It is a truly visionary art center that SM should cherish. it's a major tourist destination already because it is unique, has real character and history. Massive redevelopment will hurt the art dealers to the point that they won't be able to survive. We must not let that happen.

May. 11, 2014, 10:52:00 am

Moon Pi said...

Sorry but "character" and "Santa Monica" do NOT go together. Santa Monica is all about bland, efficient multi-story, mixed use real estate products. Plenty of generic , overpriced housing and space for banks branches and chain retailers. We like to call it bettering our city but it's really just cramming as much into little space as the developers can. The city makes money, the developer makes money and the campaign contributions keep on coming. Screw the people

May. 11, 2014, 11:44:02 am

Thane said...

Right on!!! The Bergamot Art Galleries, Museum and Cafe are a unique and popular center for the arts in our community. It should be nurtured not smothered with another oversized commercial development that bears no relation to its current use. To so would degrade or possibly destroy this oasis of culture and art in our City.

May. 11, 2014, 11:53:30 am

Maryanne LaGuardia said...

Leave it alone! It is funky, iconic, a pleasure to visit and a cultural treasure. It can welcome people off the metroline just as it is, and continue to be an asset to our city. Let's continue to enjoy it as it is.

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