San Diego : Children's Museum Plan Is Confirmed

A plan to make the Children's Museum of San Diego the primary tenant in Balboa Park's historic House of Charm was formally approved Monday by the San Diego City Council.

The museum will occupy most of the 48,000 square feet in the 74-year-old building when renovations to the crumbling structure on Balboa Park's prestigious Prado are completed between 1991 and 1995.

The San Diego Art Institute will take up 7,500 square feet, 4,000 of it on the ground floor, and the Old Globe Theatre will use a 16,600-square-foot sub-basement, to be excavated at city expense, for rehearsal space. The city will pay for the work because it will bolster tourism, said Dave Twomey, assistant director of the city's Park and Recreation Department.

The 9-0 vote, which formalized a plan endorsed by the council Oct. 16, fulfills a pledge made by Mayor Maureen O'Connor during her January State of the City address to create a children's museum and workshop in the House of Charm as part of a 1989 "Year of the Child."

It also ends a sometimes bitter competition among city cultural institutions for coveted space along the park's well-traveled main boulevard.

Renovations to the House of Charm are part of a massive overhaul of the park being financed by a 1-cent increase in the city's hotel-room tax. The total cost of park renovations will exceed $100 million.

Under the council-approved plan, the San Diego Hall of Champions has 180 days to decide whether it will move to the park's Federal Building, where it would undergo a major expansion financed by a $4-million donation. If that happens as expected, the Mingei International Museum of World Folk Art would then move into the Hall of Champions' vacated space in the Casa de Balboa.

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