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Partnership declaration signed for planned Armenian American Museum, ‘a jewel in our city’

The Glendale City Council joined faith and community leaders this week in signing a “declaration of partnership” celebrating their work on the future Armenian American Museum.

Museum and city officials inked the document during a joint press conference Wednesday following Glendale City Council’s unanimous approval of the ground lease agreement for the museum’s future site. The event was held on the second floor of the Downtown Central Library, overlooking the southwest corner of Central Park where the museum will be built.

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“It’s great to be here on this momentous occasion,” said Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan. “It is a proud day for the city of Glendale and we are excited that the Armenian American Museum’s future home is going to be in our city.”

Initially, the museum was going to be built on a 1.37-acre, city-owned parking lot at Mountain Street and Verdugo Road, but community push-back forced it to be relocated.

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Councilwoman Paula Devine said Wednesday was “one of the proudest days of her life” in public service.

“The Armenian American Museum is going to be a jewel in our city and a world class center that we are all going to be proud of,” Devine said.

The $1-a-year ground lease agreement will be for 55 years with options to extend the lease term for four 10-year periods, for a maximum lease of 95 years. The current parking areas around Central Library and park will be turned into additional green space.

Construction on the 60,0000-square-foot, three-story museum will begin within the next year, once museum board members and city officials begin raising funds for the $30-million project and reviewing paperwork, said Berdj Karapetian, museum executive chairman.

The museum will also include a performing arts theater, a learning center, a demonstration kitchen and a café. A parking structure, which is projected to cost an additional $12 million and is expected to have 262 spaces, will also be built.

“People from all walks of life will see that the citizens of Glendale led the charge for this marvelous building,” Karapetian said.

Museum officials will announce opportunities for the public to get involved with the project at a later date.

Councilman Vartan Gharpetian spoke about a portion of the museum being dedicated to the Armenian Genocide, the extermination of roughly 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire 103 years ago.

“As a descendant of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, people ask me how did Armenians survive?” Gharpetian said. “First, we settled into an area we’re comfortable with. We build our churches first, then we build our schools and our cultural centers.

“This is a center for children, as well as present and future residents, to come in and learn about where Armenians came from and where we’re going,” Gharpetian said.

Councilman Ara Najarian, the self-described “Armenian from Ohio,” talked about how committed he would be to the museum.

“I intend to be an active partner because I am committed to this museum, and I will help make sure it is is done timely and with the full community’s support,” Najarian said.

“The museum will be a legacy for the next generation and we have taken a great step towards making the project a reality,” he said.

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