With the consequences of the state's decision to abolish local redevelopment continuing to roil Glendale, this week the Museum of Neon Art emerged as a potential casualty.
It seems the $5.2-million deal approved by the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency to move the venerable museum from its downtown L.A. space into a renovated property across from the Americana at Brand is at risk of being dissolved by the oversight board in charge of untangling Glendale from its redevelopment obligations and sending more redevelopment property taxes to the state.
If that happens, it would be a huge blow, not only to Glendale's image, but to MONA, whose executive director this week said the museum would be left homeless after putting “all our eggs in this basket.”
Everything had seemed a done deal. Under the deal inked in 2011, MONA would get two years worth of free rent in a space purchased and renovated by the city using redevelopment money. After that, the museum's monthly rent would increase over time from $2,500 to $5,000, plus a portion of revenues more than $600,000.
In exchange, Glendale would get a marquee tourist draw and a strong cultural anchor for an ever-changing downtown landscape, one that will soon see a new Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's.
About $2.7 million has already been spent on acquisition and design, but it could all be undone by the oversight board, which is made up by a majority of representatives — L.A. County, Glendale Unified — that stand to benefit from canceling the contract because they get a portion of any redevelopment money not retained by the city.
They also don't have to worry about getting sued by MONA for breach of contract, since the state protected them from such legal action. That means Glendale — which isn't protected — could get pounded even harder.
We appeal to oversight board members to recognize the value in seeing this deal through. Such a cultural resource in Glendale could surely have uses for the school district, and it doesn't serve Los Angeles County to see MONA without a home — and possibly forced out — in the name of money-grubbing.