Construction Starts on Pico Library, a Future Neighborhood Centerpiece

Santa Monica "has everything except for a library in the Pico neighborhood." That's about to change.

Ground broke Wednesday on the first library in Santa Monica's Pico neighborhood, an asset community leaders proclaimed will unite residents who have long sought their own place to study and learn.

"We expect parents to bring kids for story time, residents to join book clubs and for students to see the library as an important resource," aid Irma Carranza of the Pico Neighborhood Association.

A ceremony to mark the occasion was held Wednesday at the site where the new $11.43-million branch will rise, next to the Thelma Terry Building at . Doors are anticipated to open in the spring of 2014.

"Santa Monica has many amenities for its visitors, beaches, restaurants, shopping... You name it, " said Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom. "It has everything except for a library in the Pico neighborhood."

Designed by Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architecture, the one-story library will orient towards Pico Boulevard and consist of two buildings. The main 7,872 square-foot facility include a children’s, teen and adult collections; popular materials; a children’s area; reading areas; group study rooms; and public computers.

Across the fire lane, a separate 818 square-foot community room will be used for story times, educational and cultural programs and will be available for public rentals. The neighboring structures will be connected at the roofline with a trellis, "creating a lively pedestrian breezeway," city officials said.

Planners are seeking a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Planning began four years ago for the new branch, but it's been in demand since the 1980s. Though the nearest branch, Fairview, is less than one mile away in the Sunset Park area, Pico neighborhood residents had asked for their own facility on the north side of Pico Boulevard, city officials have said.

It was one of a handful of big projects in the pipeline that was to be funded with Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency money. When the agency, along with hundreds of others across California, was dissolved Feb. 1 as a result of a state Supreme Court ruling, the city was left to absorb most of its costs.

"We're in one of the worst economic situations this country has seen and countless communities are cutting back on libraries," city librarian Greg Mullen. "I am glad to see Santa Monica building a new building and producing support and services for that building."

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