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Academy Museum delays opening until 2018, cites talks over traffic and parking

Scratch fall 2017 as the opening time of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The $300-million project by the group behind the Oscars is now expected to open on Wilshire Boulevard’s Museum Row in spring 2018.

Museum spokeswoman Morgan Kroll said Tuesday that the timetable was thrown off by the need to negotiate with a citizens group that had threatened to sue if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t satisfy its concerns about traffic congestion, parking and signage.

Museum leaders struck a deal with the Fix the City group on Sept. 10, 2 1/2 months after the City Council had approved the project. Fix the City leaders said the agreement needed more teeth to prevent unwarranted disruption of neighborhoods near the museum site at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue.

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The film museum will occupy the historic former May Co. department store on that corner, which opened in 1939 and sports a distinctive gold and black Art Deco column on the exterior. The academy has a long-term lease on the structure and adjoining acreage from its landlord, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Work has begun to demolish a 1940s addition that once housed home appliance showrooms and isn’t considered architecturally historic, Kroll said. The academy also is knocking down non-historic elements inside the original building, she said, but will preserve its exterior and restore special interior features such as an elegant tea room.

Knocking down the 1940s building will clear space for an outdoor plaza and part of the footprint of a new 1,000-seat see-through domed cinema.

Kroll said planners are still grappling with whether a big Oscar statuette, the academy’s famous emblem, can be hung near the Art Deco column to mark the building and its purpose. For historic preservation reasons, it cannot mar the column itself.

Follow @boehmm for arts news and features.

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