City Council Report


City Council Meeting: November 25, 2014

Agenda Item: 3-G

To:               Mayor and City Council

From:           Andy Agle, Director of Housing and Economic Development

Subject:        Bergamot Station Arts Center Advisory Committee and Guiding Principles


Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:


  1. Approve the creation of an advisory committee for the Bergamot Station Arts Center, consisting of one member designated by each of the following groups: Santa Monica Arts Commission, Santa Monica Planning Commission, Santa Monica Neighborhood Council, Bergamot Station Gallery and Cultural Association, and Santa Monica Museum of Art; and


  1. Approve guiding principles for the project.


Executive Summary

On September 9, 2014, Council authorized an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with the Worthe Real Estate Group to implement the City’s vision for the City-owned property located at 2525 Michigan Avenue (“Site”), home to the Bergamot Station Arts Center.  Council also directed staff to recommend the composition and role of an advisory committee (“Advisory Committee”) to provide input regarding the proposed revitalization of the Site.  Staff recommends that the Advisory Committee be comprised of five members representing a variety of community groups.  Members would serve a term of approximately six to nine months to review and comment on the project elements in advance of Council’s conceptual review and prior to submittal of a Development Agreement application. In addition, staff recommends that Council approve guiding principles for the project to inform and facilitate the participation of the Advisory Committee and the public.



On March 20, 2012, Council endorsed the Bergamot Station Arts Center Preferred Concept and authorized staff to prepare and release a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to solicit qualifications from potential partners to design and implement the Preferred Concept for the City-owned Arts Center. Five development teams responded to the RFQ in July 2012.  On November 27, 2012, Council directed staff to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the top three teams that were selected through the RFQ process.


On February 25, 2014 Council reviewed the three proposals submitted in response to the RFP and directed staff to gather feedback from the Arts Commission and arts community regarding the proposals. After completing a six-month outreach effort, including public meetings with the Bergamot Station Gallery and Culture Association and the Santa Monica Arts Commission, staff presented the feedback gathered through those efforts to Council on September 9, 2014.  At that meeting, Council selected the Worthe Real Estate Group (“Development Team”) to implement the revitalization of the Site and directed staff to return with a recommended structure and criteria of a stakeholder advisory body.



Advisory Committee

To assist the City and Development Team in defining the conceptual plan for the Site, Council directed staff to recommend parameters for the formation of an advisory group to provide input and feedback to staff and the Development Team and recommendations to Council regarding the project’s conceptual plan, including the overall mix of uses, tenant retention efforts, construction phasing, parking management, and arts center management and programming for the Site. Staff has evaluated the structure and role of various advisory bodies, including the Santa Monica Civic Working Group, and recommends Council approve the establishment of a limited-term, five‑member Advisory Committee, with each of the following organizations selecting one member to serve on the committee:






Members selected by each body need not be sitting members of a commission or board.


The Advisory Committee will work with an interdepartmental staff team consisting of representatives from Housing and Economic Development, Community and Cultural Services, Planning and Community Development, Public Works and Big Blue Bus, along with representatives of the Development Team.  The charge of the Advisory Committee will be to review and provide feedback to staff and the Development Team, as well as recommendations to the City Council, regarding:


·       The appropriate mix of uses for the Site, including the mix of cultural uses;


·       The appropriate amount and location of parking, as well as parking management strategies;


·       Construction phasing of improvements; and


·       The elements of an arts center management plan, including tenant retention and recruitment efforts, marketing, and strategies to incorporate additional cultural uses and activities.


Staff recommends that the Advisory Committee meetings focus on discrete elements of the conceptual plan as the elements are prepared by the Development Team.  As a result, the meetings would be held for approximately six to nine months in advance of Council’s conceptual review and prior to submittal of a Development Agreement application.  The Advisory Committee would be subject to the Brown Act requirements.


Guiding Principles

In addition to the formation of the Advisory Committee, staff is seeking Council’s approval of guiding principles for the project, in order to advise the Development Team and Advisory Committee regarding key elements that the project must address.  The proposed Guiding Principles contain elements of the initial Bergamot Station Arts Center Preferred Concept, which was endorsed by Council on March 20, 2012 to serve as the overarching vision for the Site’s request for proposals process, while reflecting the findings of the stakeholder and community input process conducted over the last six months.  The proposed Guiding Principles are as follows:


1.     The Site has customarily generated $622,000 of annual ground rent to support Big Blue Bus operations.  The project shall maintain and increase that ground rent amount over time.


2.     The project shall generate additional municipal revenues that could be used to supplement Big Blue Bus funding.


3.     The project shall minimize displacement and disruption to the fine art galleries and other creative businesses on the Site.


4.     The project shall support the Expo Station through amenities and services, such as public restrooms and directional signage.


5.     The project shall incorporate a permanent home for the Santa Monica Museum of Art.


6.     The project shall incorporate space for additional non-profit cultural uses.


7.     The project shall offer below-market rents for all cultural uses, with deeply discounted rents for non-profit cultural uses.



Council could reject the staff recommendation regarding the structure and charge of the Advisory Committee and directly appoint applicants, or alter the number of Advisory Committee representatives or groups to be involved.  Alternatively, Council could ask staff to develop a multi-step process to solicit a larger pool of applicants based on their technical skills or other selection criteria for potential applicants to be considered. Either of these actions would cause further delay to the project and development process.  Council could also select a larger or more formal committee, though such an approach would cause more significant delays as there are not currently sufficient resources to support an on-going, formal committee.  In regards to the Guiding Principles, Council could modify the elements or reject the concept, though it could lead to confusion regarding the scope and purpose of the upcoming process.




Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action.  Staff will return to Council if specific budget actions are required in the future.



Prepared by: Jason Harris, Economic Development Manager






Forwarded to Council:







Andy Agle, Director

Housing and Economic Development


Rod Gould

City Manager