The council voted unanimously to accept a museum proposal that would expand the project to include the adjacent property, freeing up more room to showcase a large collection of vintage signs and contemporary neon art, and for educational programming.
The museum’s temporary space in downtown Los Angeles is only able to accommodate 20 of the signs in its collection.
Community Redevelopment Director Philip Lanzafame said city officials would continue negotiations to acquire the 212 South Brand property, which includes an arcade. The city first attempted to buy it in November.
The property last changed hands in 1987 for about $465,000, according to Los Angeles County property records.
A representative for the property’s owner, Andranik Shahinian, asked the council to hold off on a vote so that a proposal to bring in a national retail tenant could be refined, adding that Shahinian wanted to retain the property.
He did not elaborate on which retailer had expressed interest in the site.
“Bear in mind, there is a little bit of emotion with the owner,” local Realtor Greg Astorian said. “This is a gentleman with his family who has owned this property since 1987.”
But city officials said they were swayed by the museum’s proposal, setting up the possibility of eminent domain proceedings if negotiations to acquire the property fell through.
“You aren’t taking that step of eminent domain here today,” said City Manager Jim Starbird. “That trigger has not been pulled. There are still discussions to be had with the owner.”
Still, some on the council made it clear they were eager to see the redevelopment of the parcel sooner rather than later.
“That property was a very big problem area and it had to be eliminated, one way or another,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, referencing repeat police calls to the arcade.