Pico Library Groundbreaking Set for Aug. 15

The long-awaited branch at Virginia Avenue Park is expected to open in the spring of 2014.

Ground will break Aug. 15 on the Pico Library at its new home at .

The $11.43-million library, consisting of two buildings and an outdoor amphitheater, will rise next to the Thelma Terry Building. Doors are anticipated to open in the spring of 2014.

A groundbreaking ceremony to officially kick off the construction of the Santa Monica Public Library network's newest branch is scheduled for 1-2 p.m. Aug. 15 at the park's farmers' market patio, east of the park center building. Light refreshments will be provided.

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 Sunset Park, Pico neighborhood residents had asked for their own facility on the north side of Pico Boulevard, city officials have said. 

The Pico branch library 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.

The only redevelopment money spent on the project was for the cost of its design, by Koning Eizenberg Architects, at about $900,000, according to project manager Tom Afschar.

An entity separate from city, the redevelopment agency used its own revenue to invest in projects mainly in blighted parts of cities. Projects that weren't already underway by the time the agency got the ax, will now go unfunded or, as is the case with the Pico library, will be paid for out of the city's budget.

In its budgets through 2014, the city has earmarked $9.8 million for the library.

The branch's main facility will include children's, teen adult and popular collections, a children's area, reading areas, public computers, study rooms and computer support services. The annex building will host story times and other programs. An exterior amphitheatre with terraced steps on the annex's south side will connect the library to the park and teen centers.


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