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Council Approves Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts

The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and a City (owned and operated) three-level subterranean parking structure on Jan. 22.

“It’s a great day for the City of Beverly Hills and a great day for culture,” said Mayor Barry Brucker.

The council approved the Environmental Impact Report and the amended lease agreement. The 470-car parking garage was also approved by the council in its role as parking authority of the City.

“We are thrilled”, says Bram Goldsmith, chairman of the Annenberg board of directors. “The entire board has worked tirelessly to reach this point, and we appreciate the support of the City and the entire community.”

The Annenberg is situated on the site of the landmark Beverly Hills Post Office. The award-winning project, designed by architect Zoltan Pali from Studio Pali Fekete architects in L.A., will preserve and adapt the historic post office to include three classrooms, a 150-seat flexible studio space, a donor lounge, production support services and administrative offices.

A new 500-seat state-of-the art theater will be built adjacent to the landmark Italian Renaissance Revival building. A glass bridge connects the two buildings and a sculpture garden will welcome guests into the courtyard.  Groundbreaking is expected this year.

“This is a celebratory moment for all those who have worked with us from the beginning of our efforts,” says Executive Director Lou Moore. “We can now forge ahead with building a performing arts center.”

After 58 years of service, the federal government determined the Beverly Hills Post Office could no longer handle the volume of postal demands and closed the building in the early 1990s.  With  widespread public support, the City  negotiated the purchase of the building and finalized the acquisition in l998. At the same time a group of prominent business and civic leaders formed a nonprofit organization, the Beverly Hills Cultural Center Foundation, to combine their passion for the arts with the commitment to preserve the building.  The foundation submitted a proposal to Beverly Hills to become the lessee of the post office.

In 2004, the Annenberg Foundation made a leadership gift of $15 million, an act of visionary philanthropy which reflected Wallis Annenberg’s deep passion for architectural preservation and the arts.

In gratitude for such generosity, the Cultural Center’s board officially changed its name to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.  

The center will bring top theater, music, dance and children’s theater to Beverly Hills.  It promises to provide an environment for the performing arts that is both welcoming and historically significant

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