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Broad resigns as head of Grand Avenue Committee

March 06, 2007|Cara Mia DiMassa | Times Staff Writer

Philanthropist Eli Broad has announced that he is stepping down as chairman of the citizens group that has steered the $2.05-billion Grand Avenue project since its inception.

The Grand Avenue project, which eventually could include nine acres of retail, housing and office space as well as a 16-acre civic park around Walt Disney Concert Hall on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, received approval last month from the city and county.

At a luncheon Monday to honor those involved in the process, Broad said he had wanted to guide the project through city and county approvals before relinquishing control of the Grand Avenue Committee.

"With the development phase beginning, it makes perfect sense," he said.

Broad initially served as co-chairman of the committee and became sole chairman after developer Jim Thomas left the committee two years ago. But it has been Broad's vision that has largely guided the process over the last seven years.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday March 12, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 59 words Type of Material: Correction
Grand Avenue Committee: An article in Tuesday's California section about Eli Broad's decision to step down as chairman of the Grand Avenue Committee did not mention his future role in the $2.05-billion project on Bunker Hill. Although he is relinquishing the committee's gavel to developer Nelson Rising, Broad intends to remain on the panel as one of two co-chairmen.

Broad said he hopes to focus on other projects, including his foundation's work on education and healthcare issues. Along with supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, Broad has recently been a bidder for the Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times. "My plate is more than full," Broad said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised Broad for having "vision, persistence, tenacity -- the will to move this vision along."

Replacing Broad as chairman will be Nelson Rising, a real estate developer who has served on the committee since 2005. He said the project was transformational for the city of Los Angeles. Still, he told Broad at the meeting, "I have no illusions.... No one can replace you."

The Grand Avenue project is scheduled to break ground in October. But late Friday, the owner of the Westin Bonaventure hotel filed a complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court, asking the court to declare invalid the City Council's and county Board of Supervisors' approval last month of the Grand Avenue project. The hotel contends that the government actions violate the Bunker Hill Redevelopment Plan and provisions of state redevelopment law.

Helen Parker, a lawyer for the county, said attorneys for the agencies and companies named in the suit were reviewing the filing. She said they would have no comment on pending litigation.

cara.dimassa@latimes.com

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