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Bergamot Demolition Looms Over Galleries

The tear-down of Santa Monica Auction's home is certain. Other galleries are left to speculate how construction for the future Expo light rail train station will impact business.

Aptly named "The Expo Auction, The End of the Line Sale," the Santa Monica Auctions will raise its gavel for the last time this weekend in the C Building at the Bergamot Arts Station.

The razing of the C building—home to Track 16, the Robert Berman Gallery and the Santa Monica Auctions—is imminent as Metro prepares to construct a train station for the Expo Light Rail adjacent to the 5.6-acre complex of art galleries.

Construction for the new train station is expected to begin this fall. Tenants are supposed to be out by the end of August, according to a March 20 memo from city staffers to the Santa Monica City Council, but the galleries say they have not been given a precise date.

“We are not sure how long we can stay. We are hoping for 90 day notice, but have still not heard,” said Track 16’s manager of operations, Caesar Delgadillo.

The Santa Monica Auctions final event takes place 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. It's the last chance for art buyers to experience the auction as it has happened for the past two decades.

This year's featured work is by mid-career and established Los Angeles artists of all mediums, including Andy Warhol, Ed Kienholz, David Hockney, Raymond Pettibon and Pablo Picasso.

Nextdoor, Skidmore Contemporary, in building D-2, will host an opening reception for artist Ann Lofquist the same night, Saturday, from 5-7 p.m. It will feature work that showcases Lofquist's perception of how nature co-mingles with man-made worlds.

The City Council once the train arrives. Earlier this spring, it approved a proposed makeover that could include the addition of an 88-room boutique hotel and a parking structure, and, possibly, a new home for the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

The museum's executive director, Elsa Longhauser, said she is eager for the changes. The new Expo Line is expected to carry tens of thousands of riders from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica.

“The city has been talking to us about providing the land, the building shell, and the core," she said of a new home for the museum. "They know we need a minimum of 20,000 square feet and they are comfortable with that.”

Meanwhile, those that will remain are now confronting what life might be like amid construction.

"Dust, noise and parking are immediate concerns," said Laurie Frank of Frank Pictures Gallery.

She fears the impacts will deter customers, and may ultimately cost her the business.

"I will hold on for as long as it is physically and financially feasible, but there is no good news in all this for Bergamot Station,” Frank said.

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Dan Charney June 08, 2012 at 01:07 AM
The City Council- once great and keeping SM so unique has sold out completely to one developer after another - we don't need a new Miramar or another hotel- we need art and facilities for seniors and others- I've lived here a long time and have never seen such sold out politicians here before- we are no longer a great city with one huge building and more traffic - shame shame - but nothing decent for low income seniors whose rents keep going up and Cola doesn't-
Dan Charney June 08, 2012 at 04:00 AM
I also have a huge problem with the "spin" the Patch is putting on this - as though it's a great thing - nothing great about it - it's more of the same that has taken this city down - the Patch keeps taking the wrong position on events in this city - it's more than just 'reporting' them - whether it's the Seniors losing their outdoor wonderful locale or the canned hunt of an innocent and terrified wild animal due to ignorance and lack of training of the people involved- or this - the hell with the arts- "Hey isn't it great?? More stuff for hotels and materialism? " No it's not great- I guess I am starting to see the side the Patch is on - wonder who owns you?
Jenna Chandler (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Dan: Did you skip the quote from a gallery owner who said the construction might cost her her business? I seemed to have missed the part where we said we believe this project is great.
Dan Charney June 08, 2012 at 07:08 AM
The entire article is slanted towards how great it is- with that one mention by one owner- none of the rest of it- the whole leverage is on the other side- as though it's already been decided and so the small galleries will suffer and lose- almost like you are saying "big deal" - "this will be so much better and that is the price of it"
Jenna Chandler (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 08:09 AM
Dan: This was a balanced piece with opinions from both sides. We do not and will not take positions in our news stories. I would, however, love to provide a platform if you're are interested in writing opinion pieces about developments in town either in the form of op-eds or letters to the editor. You can message me directly at jenna.chandler@patch.com.
VF Marko June 09, 2012 at 12:07 AM
It seems Berman has leased more gallery space in a spared building -but what about Track 16? It has too much history to be just left out? If the city owns Bergamot why cant they help their longtime tenants?
Dan Charney June 09, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Jenna - please - you do take a position and it's obvious- the answer to why the city won't help out their longtime tenants is obvious- they are for sale
Brenda Barnes January 19, 2013 at 09:54 PM
I know this article is a long time ago now, but the huge building the City built there opened this week. It would be nice to see an update including how much the rents are and what the restrictions on use are compared to what was there before. It looks like one small charming building with history and low rents, with longterm tenants who built up the area, after another being replaced. Always this is by art for the elite, by the elite, with traffic and congestion--along with noise and pollution--for the surrounding Pico Neighborhood residents..

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