Glendale moves forward with new home for Museum of Neon Art

The City Council on Tuesday approved a $1.6-million construction contract for the long-awaited Museum of Neon Art, sealing a marquee addition to the downtown corridor that had been jeopardized by the dissolution of local redevelopment.

Construction on the building across from the Americana at Brand is now set to begin in April — and MONA’s executive director, Kim Koga, said she couldn't be more excited.

“I can’t wait for the building,” Koga said.

The museum, which has seen its share of controversy since it was first approved in 2011, was on the line after state lawmakers took over redevelopment assets from local agencies to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap in February 2012.

That had worried officials at MONA, which had committed to moving out of its downtown Los Angeles space.

But it was able to pass through the vetting process of which projects and obligations cities were allowed to see through, setting the stage for Tuesday, when the City Council, in its dual role as the agency in charge of unwinding local redevelopment, approved the $1.6-million deal with Pacwest Corp. to revamp the city-owned building at 216 S. Brand Blvd.

The work includes renovating the shell of the building to include glass storefronts and a display area, building a pedestrian walkway and other improvements.

The $1.6 million is part of $2.3 million the California Department of Finance has given Glendale to complete the renovations. The remainder of the money may pay for other improvements outlined by museum officials.

As part of the 2011 deal inked with Glendale’s former redevelopment agency, MONA will occupy the revamped building rent-free for two years, after which monthly rent will increase over time from $2,500 to $5,000. MONA will also have to pay a portion of revenues that exceed $600,000.

The museum still plans to do its own fundraising to support its operations for the first five years, as well as build a gift shop.

Koga said their next fundraiser — a bus tour of neon signs and landmarks — is scheduled for April, the same month construction on the new building is scheduled to begin.

The exterior construction work is slated to be complete by February 2014, according to the city.


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