Hollywood Holocaust Museum Production Way Over Budget

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January 23, 2011; Source: Miami Herald | NPQ is sometimes much more interested in the odd small detail of a story than in the main story line. In this case, both are pretty interesting: A Holocaust museum in Hollywood, Fla. has decided to site itself in an 85-year-old building that was previously a fetish nightclub and the museum has gotten in way over its head financially but is forging ahead with a renegotiated deal on the building at the core of its future plans.

The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center has put $3.5 million into the renovation of this historic art deco building that it bought from the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency for $1.2 million in 2004. But it now finds itself unable to pay the $17,000 a month mortgage. Its plan is to approach the city to ask that the CRA retake ownership of the building and lease it to the museum for $1 a year for 99 years.

Calling the building a “money pit,” museum officials admit they have put way more money into the structure than was ever expected. Its donor base seems to have been affected not only by the economy in general but by the Madoff scam and the arrest of fraudster, Scott Rothstein, who had promised a large gift. The museum says that it needs to put an additional $350,000 into renovations but it still must raise $16 million to complete its exhibits

This story gives the impression that this sort of mortgage renegotiation is an option even in these troubled times, once again suggesting to us all that we question all of our operating assumptions as our environments shift and change.—Ruth McCambridge