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LACMA’s proposed South LA Wetlands Park building takes a step forward

The project “won’t be small in terms of a sense of our mission,” says museum director Michael Govan

South Los Angeles Wetlands Park | Bri Weldon / Creative Commons

The recreation and parks department’s Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to move forward with a plan to lease a long vacant building at the South LA Wetlands Park to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The lease, which is still being negotiated, would likely be for a 35-year term. As part of the lease, LACMA would foot the bill for cleaning up the site, retrofitting the building, and using up to 30,500 square feet of the 84,000-square-foot building for community-oriented programming in the arts.

LACMA director Michael Govan called it a “historic” project, telling commissioners that though the building at the Wetlands Park would be a small part of a much larger organization, “it won’t be small in terms of a sense of our mission.”

Govan also said the programs outlined in a staff report are a little vague, because the museum plans to refine the plans with the help of the community, asking residents what they want to see happen at their park.

No one at the meeting spoke against the project, and the commissioners voiced excitement at finally being able to see the building be put to use.

A 2008 environmental impact report for the park, which was formerly an industrial site, imagined the building could be rehabbed and used for community programs. But costly hazardous materials removal and earthquake-retrofitting made the project prohibitively expensive for the recs and parks department. LACMA approached the department about using the space earlier this year.