THE DECLINE AND FALL OF BERGAMOT
As we have previously reported, Bergamot Station, one of Santa Monica’s most popular and interesting areas, is destined to be the first major casualty of the Expo Light Rail.
It has been noted that the first light rail train won’t arrive in Santa Monica until 2016, not 2015 as had been previously announced, but the City is planning to begin work on the site this summer,though there is no good reason to dismantle what’s there now, and subject it to four years of bulldozers, jack hammers, truck trains of debris coming and going, dust, dirt and chaos.
Its old warehouses, which have been converted into quite wonderful galleries, the café, a few related enterprises, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and the parking areas fill the space nicely. One more gallery would be too much, tip the scales. But the City Hall motto is MORE IS BETTER, and so, in August, our planners and the Expo people are going to demolish building C, which houses Track 16, the Robert Berman Gallery and Santa Monica Auctions, (see related story below) in order to run the light rail tracks through Bergamot Station. It also plans on adding more businesses, and, of all things, a hotel.
It would have been easier and more efficient to run the tracks out of the proposed Expo maintenance yard, across Stewart Street and directly to the site of the Expo station. But the rail wizards are going to run the tracks out of the yard, north on Stewart, west along Olympic and, from there, they will drill through Bergamot to the Expo station.
The gallery owners we’ve talked to don’t think they’ll survive the extended commotion. Berman told a Mirror writer, “We knew it was coming, but thought it would not happen for quite some time, We were shocked quite frankly when we were told that we had to be out by August.”
And so, once again, bad planning drives out the good. Wherever he is, Walter Hopps must be raging. Quietly.