Mayor V. leases 2 acres of prime land to billionaire for $1

Philanthropist Eli Broad


While philanthropist Eli Broad has actively supported several worthy projects  over the years how can LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa justify leasing 2 acres of prime downtown real estate to this billionaire for one dollar per year for the next 99 years when the land was assessed at $7.7 million dollars? 

Mr. Broad, founder of Fortune 500 housing giant Kaufman and Broad, has a net worth of $5 billion dollars. 

Over the years, in addition to giving money to UCLA, Eli and his wife have donated $100 million dollars to MIT and another $100 Million to Harvard University. Therefore, not only do they have the bucks, they are extremely generous in supporting cultural projects. I have read that their collection of modern and contemporary art contains 1500 pieces. This land would be used to create a museum to display some of these pieces.
With that background, why would the mayor of LA concede to this virtually free use of LA property for a lifetime. 

Mr. Broad, don’t lower yourself to “taking” from the public trough. You of all people surely know that land values are currently depressed. Instead of leasing the land, buy it from the City of LA and avoid the negative press. 

In eminent domain takings we speak of “just compensation.” What is the just compensation to the city of LA whose taxpayers own the subject land? 

While I don’t fault them for asking, I blame the mayor for conceding to this request. Perhaps someone might peel the onion further to see if Tony V. has received any campaign contributions from Eli Broad or the Broad Foundation which has a long history of contributions to Democratic candidates. 

The following text is from LA Weekly. As the report is short I will not edit it but am still providing the story link below. 

Broad Museum’s scandalous math: A $7.7 million land gift to billionaire from broke Los Angeles City Hall
By LA Weekly, Monday, May. 10 2010 @ 2:20PM 

By Tibby Rothman 

“What can $1 a year get a billionaire in Los Angeles these days?  
Hard bargainer?  

Evidently, a property worth $7.7 million. According to a document obtained by the L.A. Weekly, that’s the value of the prime downtown square footage near Disney Concert Hall that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and others are secretly negotiating to rent for 99 years, nearly for free, to Broad for his foundation offices and an attached, but much smaller, art museum. 

Here’s the truth, even though it’s often unmentioned in media coverage of this touchy issue: 

The roughly two acres of land is owned by city taxpayers (not by the county, as Los Angeles media have wrongly reported). But it took a request from county officials — not the City Council or Villaraigosa — to find out how much the land is really worth. 

The $7.7 million valuation was determined by Ronald L. Buss, of Buss-Shelger Associates, a real estate consultant who reported his findings to Los Angeles County CEO William T. Fujioka in a letter on May 6. 

So far Villaraigosa has made no effort to find out if 4 million Los Angeles residents want to fork over a $7.7 million piece of their land to Eli Broad. 

Moreover, local media including the Los Angeles Times have continued to vastly underplay — or even leave out entirely — the fact that the public land to be handed over to Broad will mostly be used for his private foundation’s new offices and other non-public space — not for the much smaller space set aside for the art museum. 

The pricey parcel across the street from MOCA is part of the long-stalled Grand Avenue luxury hotel-and-condo project, envisioned on several plots of connected land owned variously by city and county taxpayers. L.A. County holds a share in Grand Avenue’s revenue and thus Fujioka and county officials are interested in its worth. 

Proponents have praised the plan to display Broad’s top-notch art collection on public land, saying it will generate interest in downtown Los Angeles and draw tourists. Opponents call it a giveaway to a billionaire during a recession. 

In his letter to Fujioka, Buss notes that Related Companies, the developer of the troubled Grand Avenue project, would benefit financially from a Broad museum, and the high-end condos the developer envisions could command an even higher price. “Related is in favor of museum; it will help pricing of condominium units; will probably use facility to define project–‘Museum Towers,'” Buss states in his report to Fujioka.”

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