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Santa Monica Tries to Figure Out What to Do When Bergamot Station Becomes a Train Station Again

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Way back in 1875, the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica was actually a train stop for the Red Line that ran through Los Angeles to the Santa Monica Pier. Now the city of Santa Monica is trying to decide what to do in 2015 when the gallery space again becomes a train stop — this time for the new Expo Line.The Expo Line will bring big changes: it will require the destruction of one gallery, and it will bring in tons of new riders. Now the Santa Monica Daily Press reports that planning department staff is wondering if the city should try to bring in some new, profitable businesses — like hotels and restaurants — to an area full of galleries that may be culturally rich but require subsidized rent to stay afloat. This talk of revenue around the arts of course makes some on the planning commission a little nervous.

Here are the three main options the planning department is considering, according to the Daily Press:

  • Option A would be adding a few new two or three-story buildings to the area but mostly preserving the footprint of Bergamot Station
  • Option B would be divvying up the parcels between a variety of owner-developers to allow the spaces to change organically as new owners come and go
  • Option C would preserve the eastern portion of the site and open up the western side for development, which could include buildings up to four stories tall, a proposed hotel and underground parking

The majority of speakers at the meeting said they prefer changing nothing at all about Bergamot Station or voting for option A, which would change the site as little as possible.Ruthann Lehrer, who is on the commission, pointed out that there's already a large-scale development being planned right across the street from Bergamot at the transit village. She suggested that maybe that development will be enough to subsidize the arts across the street.

"I'm looking at the balance between this wonderful complex and the galleries, which we value a lot and all of the development that's taking place across the street," Lehrer said. "They're supposed to provide community benefits. That would provide some of the subsidy and support."