Academy Mu­seum gets pre­lim­i­nary OK

Ob­jec­tions also are heard by a city panel. Full Coun­cil is slated to vote to­day.

Los Angeles Times - - CULTURE MONSTER - By Mike Boehm mike. boehm@ latimes. com

Un­like Bill Mur­ray in “Ground­hog Day,” plan­ners and back­ers of the Academy Mu­seum of Mo­tion Pic­tures will be de­lighted if Wed­nes­day is a re­peat of Tues­day.

The Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences re­ceived a thumbs- up for its $ 300- mil­lion mu­seum from the Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil’s plan­ning and land use man­age­ment com­mit­tee in a hear­ing Tues­day af­ter­noon. The full Coun­cil is sched­uled to vote on f inal ap­proval Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The com­mit­tee’s chair­man, Coun­cil­man Jose Huizar, presided alone Tues­day be­cause the two other mem­bers were ab­sent. At the end of the 45- minute hear­ing, Huizar said he will sup­port the pro­ject and rec­om­mend it to fel­low Coun­cil mem­bers. If ap­proved, the academy could be­gin con­struc­tion this sum­mer; it aims to open the mu­seum by the end of 2017. Bill Kramer, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Academy Mu­seum pro­ject, said that about $ 250 mil­lion in cash and pledges has come in.

The mu­seum would oc­cupy a for­mer depart­ment store at Wil­shire Boule­vard and Fair­fax Av­enue, at the western end of the cam­pus of the Los An­ge­les County Mu­seum of Art. LACMA is leas­ing the build­ing and ad­join­ing land to the academy for $ 36.1 mil­lion, with all the pay­ments al­ready made up­front for a 55- year lease that the academy can dou­ble at no ad­di­tional cost.

But not all de­vel­op­ments were rosy for the academy. A lawyer for Fix the City, a non­profit L. A. ac­tivist group that has vowed to sue to stop the pro­ject, sent a scathing email to the panel Tues­day, ac­cus­ing city of­fi­cials of ram­rod­ding the f ilm mu­seum through with­out enough anal­y­sis and dis­cus­sion of its ef­fect on traf­fic and park­ing in the Mir­a­cle Mile.

Fix the City Vice Pres­i­dent James O’Sul­li­van said many are con­cerned about the process.

“Rules mat­ter,” said O’Sul­li­van, who’s also pres­i­dent of the Mir­a­cle Mile Residential Assn. “The law mat­ters, even for mu­se­ums.”

Fix the City is a po­ten­tially mus­cu­lar ad­ver­sary, with a 2013 vic­tory over the city in a suit that over­turned zon­ing changes for de­vel­op­ment in Hol­ly­wood. O’Sul­li­van said Bev­erly Grossman Palmer, the at­tor­ney who wrote to Huizar’s com­mit­tee Tues­day, also han­dled the Hol­ly­wood case.

O’Sul­li­van had a few al­lies among more than 30 speak­ers at the hear­ing. Most fa­vored the pro­ject, which is led by Coun­cil­man Tom LaBonge, whose dis­trict in­cludes the mu­seum and who is step­ping down next week be­cause of term lim­its. O’Sul­li­van said in an in­ter­view that the re­view of the mu­seum plan should be slowed to give LaBonge’s suc­ces­sor, David Ryu, a chance to weigh in.

Some neigh­bors are con­cerned be­cause plans call for the f ilm mu­seum to share LACMA lots, with no ad­di­tional park­ing of its own. The academy has re­sponded by se­cur­ing leases for about 800 park­ing spa­ces in neigh­bor­ing garages, in­clud­ing the Petersen Automotive Mu­seum. Kramer said that would be enough to han­dle the over­flow when the mu­seum hits its es­ti­mated peak at­ten­dance of 5,000.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Bev­erly Wil­shire Home­own­ers Assn. and the Mid City West Com­mu­nity Coun­cil joined the Mir­a­cle Mile Residential Assn. in op­pos­ing the mu­seum. They said they would sup­port the pro­ject if not for its domed cin­ema, which they fear will clog streets for movie pre­mieres and other events. But a res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion for a condo de­vel­op­ment across Fair­fax Av­enue voiced sup­port, as did the Mir­a­cle Mile Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Kramer said talks with O’Sul­li­van aimed at de­ter- ring a suit have been “pro­duc­tive, and I’m hope­ful.” But O’Sul­li­van said, “I’m not op­ti­mistic.”

The email from the at­tor­ney for Fix the City com­plained there has been no time to sift through an 828page doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted by the Academy Mu­seum and dated June 11. It de­tailed changes to the plans the L. A. City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion had ap­proved in May.

“This pro­ject has de­parted so far from ac­cepted stan­dards [ as] to con­sti­tute a vi­o­la­tion of my clients’ and the public’s right to due process,” Palmer wrote.

But the gist of the changes is in the first seven pages, academy at­tor­ney Wil­liam Del­vac told Huizar. Among the changes:

Sched­ul­ing film screen­ings as early as 10 a. m., in­stead of the 2 p. m. start­ing time pre­vi­ously en­vi­sioned. Kramer said the early shows would be “kid- friendly.”

Keep­ing the mu­seum cafe open un­til 11 p. m. in­stead of shut­ting it down at the mu­seum’s 6 p. m. clos­ing time on most days.

En­larg­ing the cafe by 50% to 6,000 square feet. To ex­pand the res­tau­rant, the nearby mu­seum store would be re­duced to 3,000 square feet from 5,000 square feet.

Adding ter­races to an out­door deck atop a domed cin­ema, the Sphere. The ear­lier plan had kept the deck en­closed. Kramer said the open­ings are for air cir­cu­la­tion and are too small for peo­ple to gather out­side and bother neigh­bors with noise.

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