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Old Bank District Art Museum Set to Start Work Soon

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The museum will span three buildings in one of the loveliest old sections of Downtown LA

It's been a while since we heard from the contemporary art museum planned for Downtown LA's Old Bank District—the one set to run above, below, and through parts of the Bank House Garage, the Hellman Building, and the Farmers and Merchants Bank building. An idea from OBD developer Tom Gilmore and his partner Jerri Perrone, the museum is actually set to begin construction by about mid-April, Gilmore tells the LA Business Journal. But it could be as many as four years before the public gets to go inside.

Gilmore says the Main Museum of Los Angeles Art, as the museum's now called, will go up in five phases. The buildout could take up to four years, which is about what he'd previously predicted, though the new estimated cost—$55 million—is much more than his 2014 estimate of $25 to $35 million. The museum will be designed by LA architect Tom Wiscombe.

The first phase of the 45,000-square-foot museum (and 30,000-square-foot rooftop sculpture garden) will be the 14,000-square-foot primary entrance on Fourth Street; there will be another entrance on Main. Gilmore's aiming to have this section complete by the end of the year.

Then it's on to the work below the building, whose "turn-of-the-century bank vaults and other historic features will be displayed within vast basement and sub-basement spaces," says the LABJ.

At some point after that, the big rooftop scultpure garden/amphitheater/cafe will be done. Previous designs from Wiscombe show a really cool cantilevered restaurant hanging over Main Street ("We're going beyond the frontier of street level," Wiscombe has said) and an amphitheater reminiscent of a paper airplane.

The Main Museum is all part of a plan to push toward what Gilmore once called Old Bank District 2.0, where the neighborhood matures into one that revolves around arts and culture. "The timing just seemed right for it. We thought we could change how the buildings here were being used," he says.