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Museum is a step closer to a move

Acquisition of a building on Brand would help pave the way for facility, which would anchor arts district.

January 21, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

An important roadblock to moving the Museum of Neon Art to Glendale was removed this week after the city agreed to acquire a Brand Boulevard building for roughly $1 million.

Andranik Shahinian, who owned the Brand Arcade at 212 S. Brand Blvd., sold the city the property, as well as the games and recreational equipment it contained, said his commercial real estate agent, Greg Astorian.

The purchase will allow the 30-year-old nonprofit museum, now based in downtown Los Angeles, to move into a larger facility in Glendale, which has heavily subsidized its move. The museum is a cornerstone of the arts and entertainment district city leaders envision for downtown Glendale.

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The city expects to use the acquisition partly for the museum, which is slated to take over an adjacent building already owned by the city, and partly for an open-air passageway connecting Brand Boulevard to the park adjacent to the Glendale Central Library at Harvard and Louise streets.

"This adds a piece of the puzzle for the Museum of Neon Art," said Philip Lanzafame, chief assistant director of community development. "It adds 1,300 square feet under one roof. More importantly, it adds some outside space to utilize for events such as workshops or receptions."

Shahinian did not return calls seeking comment. Astorian said his client wanted to help the city bring to life the planned arts and entertainment hub.

"He would not have sold the property if it were not for the greater good," Astorian said.

In September 2009, the city reached an agreement with MONA to relocate to 216 S. Brand Blvd., though the two parties have yet to finalize the proposed 15-year lease.

City Councilman John Drayman said the lease arrangements, as well as marketing plans for the museum's relocation to Glendale, are developing without any hitches. He said the new acquisition gives a boost to the museum and the city's "continued use of art as a tool in the economic development of our downtown."

Drayman said that the Glendale location will allow MONA to show its complete collection of neon art, as well as provide space for teaching, tours and workshops that are part of the museum's program.

Lanzafame said the city would offer the arcade games it acquired as part of the deal to the Community Services & Parks Department and local youth services organizations.

"We'll ask if they can use any of those games," Lanzafame said. "If we can't dispose of it that way, we would surplus it and sell it for salvage."

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