City Council Meeting: February 10, 2015

Agenda Item: 8-A  

To:†††††††††††††††††† Mayor and City Council 

From:††††††††††††† Andy Agle, Director of Housing and Economic Development

Subject:††††††††† Bergamot Station Arts Center Guidelines and Advisory Committee


Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1.    Adopt guidelines for the next stage of planning for the revitalization of the City‑owned Bergamot Station Arts Center property;

2.    Define the role and scope of work of an advisory committee in helping shape the future of the Arts Center; and

3.    Approve the composition and process for establishing the advisory committee.


Executive Summary

At its meeting on November 25, 2014, Council directed staff to return with a revised proposal for the creation of an advisory committee to review and make recommendations regarding the revitalization of the City-owned Bergamot Station Arts Center.In order to provide clear expectations for staff, advisory committee members, the developer, interested stakeholders, and members of the public, staff recommends that Council adopt a series of project-specific guidelines for the future of the property, identify the role of the committee, and approve the composition and establishment process for the committee.



On September 9, 2014, Council authorized exclusive negotiations with Worthe Real Estate Group (Worthe Group) for the revitalization of the City-owned portion of Bergamot Station Arts Center (Arts Center) at 2525 Michigan Avenue (Site) and directed staff to develop a recommendation on the formation of an advisory committee (Advisory Committee) to participate in shaping the project. On November 25, 2014, Council rejected a proposal for a five-member committee including representatives of the Arts Commission, Planning Commission, Neighborhood Council, Santa Monica Museum of Art, and Bergamot Station Gallery and Cultural Association.††Council directed staff to develop a revised recommendation for a larger Advisory Committee that includes more representatives of Bergamot Station tenants and neighborhood organizations, as well as representatives of the non-profit and business communities, with the goal of attracting a diverse group that includes a wide variety of participants, including younger people.In addition, Council requested clarification regarding the purpose of adopting guiding principles for the future of the Arts Center.


The selection of a development team and an advisory body follows several years of planning for the Arts Center as part of the broader Bergamot Area Plan.The Arts Center is positioned for significant change due to the opening of the Bergamot Expo Station, which has required the demolition of the Track 16 building, thereby opening the site to arriving and departing Expo users.The new Expo Station is the beneficiary of over $1.5 billion of investment, including several million dollars in City-funded betterments designed to enhance access to the station. The Bergamot Area Plan anticipates a prime opportunity for the Arts Center to maximize trip reduction, and seeks to maintain the character and vibrancy of the Arts Center by ensuring that the art galleries continue to set the tone and style, while allowing the area to continue to evolve and attract new creative users.


Within the adopted Bergamot Area Plan (page 119), the Arts Center is expected to be developed with the following guiding principles:









In order to facilitate the process of planning for improvements at the Arts Center, staff recommends that Council adopt guidelines to direct the work of the Worthe Group, Advisory Committee, and staff; define the expected function of the Advisory Committee; and approve the composition and process for establishing the Advisory Committee.



Staff recommends that the future of the Arts Center align generally with the guiding principles developed during the Bergamot Area planning process (above).Based on the guiding principles, project-specific guidelines are recommended to help staff, the Worthe Group, the Advisory Committee, stakeholders, and members of the public understand the Councilís expectations for the future of the Arts Center.Understanding the Councilís guidelines for the Bergamot Arts Center revitalization process is important as the Arts Center has the potential to serve a variety of community goals, including continued fine-art sales, integration of broader cultural uses, amenities for transit users, a permanent home for the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and provision of funding that allows the Big Blue Bus to continue to offer excellent service with low fares.††


In selecting a development team on September 9, 2014, Council expressed concern regarding the overall scope and scale of development included in the submitted proposals and in the preferred concept (Preferred Concept) reviewed by Council on March 12, 2013 and adopted on September 10, 2013. If Council would like the Arts Center improvement process to continue forward with the guiding principles of the Preferred Concept, while allowing for more creative license on the part of the Worthe Group and the Advisory Committee in developing solutions to satisfy the goals, staff recommends that Council consider the following guidelines: ††††



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


Galleries have repeatedly expressed concern regarding the future impacts of construction.Major construction activity, without phasing and attention to mitigating the impacts, could cause existing Bergamot tenants to close and permanently relocate outside of Santa Monica.Such relocations could disrupt the fragile ecosystem of Bergamot Station. The City should work to maintain the Arts Centerís current tenants while promoting opportunities for additional arts and cultural tenants.



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


Over the course of the previous four years of planning and community input for the Bergamot Area Plan, residents have requested that the Arts Center integrate broader cultural uses to include additional non-profit uses, such as theaters, performing arts, and arts education organizations.City-owned property is the last harbor for many existing non-profits, due to rising rent levels throughout Santa Monica and the region.Ensuring a mix of vibrant arts and cultural uses, from fine art galleries to non-profit arts organizations, will help to ensure the Arts Center is both locally serving as well as a world‑class destination.



The project shall support the Expo Station and bus integration through amenities and services, including consideration of facilities such as public restrooms.


With over 3,000 people per day anticipated to utilize the Bergamot Expo Station, it is important that the Site provide amenities to serve both transit users and Arts Center visitors and customers. The site is in need of basic infrastructure improvements, such as well-managed connections through the site to facilitate people walking, biking, and connecting to buses, as well as providing shelter and amenities for people visiting the Arts Center as well as those who will be connecting to the many new bus routes that will serve the station.In addition, basic facilities such as public restrooms should be considered for the site.



The project shall incorporate a permanent home for the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA).


The SMMoA is currently located on the privately owned portion of the Art Center and its future is in jeopardy as private property owners do not have a requirement or responsibility to subsidize their tenants by foregoing market rents.Ensuring the museum has a home on the City property helps to safeguard its future. A new museum location could welcome visitors to the cultural amenities of the Arts Center and create an additional venue for fine art and cultural exhibitions, fusing together a variety of experiences and thereby drawing cultural visitors of all ages. The guideline would be conditioned on the museumís ability to fund its on-going operating costs.



The Site has customarily generated $622,000 of annual ground rent.The project shall maintain and increase that ground rent amount over time in order to provide a consistent revenue source for the Big Blue Bus.


Loss of revenue from the site will impact Big Blue Bus funds and may result in fare increases or decreased service levels.This guideline is recommended to help provide clear direction to the developer, advisory committee, and staff regarding the minimum revenue requirements for the Site.



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


Due to the desire to maximize preservation of the Site, as well as the low overall 1.0 FAR allowed on the Site, ground rent that can be generated from the Site for the Big Blue Bus is limited.However, the Site could include uses that generate other municipal revenues, such as transit occupancy taxes and additional sales taxes, which could be used to help ensure that Big Blue Bus operations continue to serve the needs of the community and remain affordable to all.††


The guidelines are meant to establish the various proprietary objectives the City expects to achieve through the revitalization of the City-owned Site. The above guidelines have been consistently identified and discussed throughout the planning and visioning process, as well as the developer-selection process, by Bergamot Station tenants, stakeholders in the arts community, and residents.


Staff recommends that Council adopt all or some of the guidelines, prioritize or modify the guidelines, or establish alternative guidelines.If the Council wishes to move forward with a new set of parameters that are distinct from the principles and vision established through the Bergamot Area Plan process, it may be necessary to conduct a new visioning process that involves going back to the beginning of the planning process. In that case, resources (both time and funding) would need to be made available to guide the community through a new planning process, including funding for economic, urban design, and land use analysis consulting services.It is important to note that the previous Bergamot Area planning process was primarily funded by federal grants.It is uncertain what role a development partner would play through a new planning process.


Role of the Advisory Committee

Staff recommends that Council define the role and scope of work of the Advisory Committee in order to provide clear direction to the Worthe Group, representative organizations, community stakeholders, and Advisory Committee members as to how the Advisory Committee will help shape the Arts Centerís future as an anchor for creative enterprise within the Bergamot district.


The charge of special-purpose committees appointed by the Council (Civic Center Working Group, Promenade Uses Task Force, Civic Auditorium Working Group) has typically been to facilitate public participation in the development of special plans and strategies.As a result, appointees of various boards and commissions have been included on the special-purpose committees because of their experience with facilitating public participation and because of their expertise in considering key policy issues (planning, arts, landmarks, etc.)In rejecting the November 25, 2014 advisory committee proposal, Council appeared reluctant to include representatives of various boards and commissions.As a result, staff believes that it would be helpful for Council to clarify their expectations for the Advisory Committee.


If Council adopts guidelines and elects to continue moving the process forward, taking advantage of the Worthe Groupís expertise, as well as the guiding principles identified through the previous long-range-planning and request-for-proposals process, staff recommends that the Advisory Committeeís scope of work would involve reviewing, providing feedback, and making recommendations regarding the critical work products to be prepared by the Worthe Group.More specifically, the Advisory Committeeís role would be to work with the Worthe Group to refine the conceptual plan for the Site, including the evaluation and identification of an appropriate mix of uses for the Site, and to review, comment upon, and make recommendations regarding the important, yet currently undefined, key deliverables for the Site, including:


         Parking management strategy (short-term and longer-term), including the appropriate amount and location(s) of parking, with consideration for the complexity of siting a major parking resource adjacent to an Expo station;


         Construction phasing of improvements;


         Final urban design and site management strategy that complements the community and arts uses, and connections to the Expo station;


         Infrastructure and overall Site improvements; and



With a focus on reviewing and making recommendations regarding work products, staff estimates that the Advisory Committee could complete the process in six to nine months.The approach would also help to facilitate the timing for the Worthe Group to prepare a refined conceptual plan for Council review, submit a development agreement application, enter into sublease arrangements with the tenants, and commence interim site improvements when the existing lease terminates on December 31, 2017.


If Council elects not to adopt guidelines for the Arts Center and instead start the planning process from the beginning, the Advisory Committee could provide feedback through the planning process.However, as noted above, a new planning process could not commence until staff and financial resources are available to undertake the planning process.


Composition and Process for Establishing the Advisory Committee

During its November 25, 2014 discussion, Council identified the desirability of a nine‑member committee, with equal representation among (1) Bergamot Station tenants, (2) residents, and (3) Santa Monica non-profits and businesses, as well as a desire for diversity within the group, potentially to include representatives of nearby businesses, as well as younger residents.In considering how to approach the establishment of the Advisory Committee, Council could consider three approaches to a nine-member body:


a)    Third-party appointments


Council could ask third-party organizations, such as the Bergamot Station Gallery and Cultural Association, to identify representatives to serve on the Advisory Committee.Such an approach would help stakeholder groups ensure that their desired representatives are included.Under such an approach, Council could consider the following approach to a nine-member Advisory Committee:


         Two representatives appointed by the Bergamot Station Gallery and Cultural Association


         One representative appointed by SMMoA


         Three representatives appointed by the Santa Monica Neighborhood Council


         Two representatives appointed by the Chamber of Commerce


         One representative appointed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau



b)    Third-party appointments with inclusionary requirements


Council could ask third-party organizations to select representatives, as above, but specify certain desired characteristics to ensure diversity.Under such an approach, Council could consider the following approach to a nine-member Advisory Committee:

Bergamot Station Arts Center tenants (3)

         Two representatives appointed by the Bergamot Station Gallery and Cultural Association


         One representative appointed by the Santa Monica Museum of Art



Santa Monica Residents (3)


         Three representatives appointed by the Santa Monica Neighborhood Council


         At least one representative must live in the Pico Neighborhood


         At least one representative must be under 40 years of age


         At least one representative must be a regular rider of the Big Blue Bus



Local Business / Non-Profit Representatives (3)


         One representative appointed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau


         Two representatives appointed by the Chamber of Commerce


         At least one representative must be associated with a business within one mile of the Arts Center


For third-party appointments with inclusionary requirements, the requirements need not be exclusive.For example, one Neighborhood Council appointee who is under 40, lives in the Pico Neighborhood, and regularly rides the Big Blue Bus would allow for two additional Neighborhood Council representatives who do not meet any of the additional requirements.


c)    Application and Council appointment:


Council could seek applications from the public to serve on the Advisory Committee, with prior identification of the types of stakeholder experience that is desired, and then make appointments from the applications.Such an approach would help ensure that there is appropriate diversity within the overall group, without tying any third-party appointing authority to specific inclusionary requirements.If Council selects to appoint members, a proposed application is attached for Councilís review.




Under any of the potential approaches, staff recommends that adjacent property owners, including Wayne Blank, the founder of Bergamot Station and owner of the private portion of Bergamot Station, be invited to speak or present on various topics to help inform the Advisory Committee and staff on specific areas pursuant to their areas of expertise.


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.



Prepared by: Jennifer Taylor, Economic Development Administrator





Forwarded to Council:







Andy Agle, Director

Housing and Economic Development


Elaine Polachek

Interim City Manager



Attachment A: Proposed Advisory Committee Application