Wende Museum Gets Amendment from the City on Building Housing on Culver Blvd.

As people pass the construction site on Culver Boulevard, eyebrows lift. What’s going on over there? New things, good things and maybe even great things. After turning the old Armory building into one of the most unique museums in the world, The Wende Museum is turning a long underused site into a beautiful performance space, community classrooms, and adding in housing for artists-in-residence. 

From the City, “The City Council approved a second amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding and Lease Agreement with Wende Museum of the Cold War, Inc. to include affordable housing. Wende, in collaboration with the Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI) or a similar organization, plans to create affordable housing for low-income political asylum-seeking, refugee artists, and local artists. This project aims to enhance cultural resources and provide community benefits through collaborative programs linked to a new Creative Community Center.”

The Glorya Kaufman Community Center will create more space for community activities, and the additional build will be housing for artists and their families to live in Culver City while working with the museum and the community. 

Justin Jampol, the Executive Director of the Wende, offered “With the addition of artists’ residences, the Wende will be able to better serve the community, deepening our commitment to creating a campus that expands the mind, heals the body, and inspires the soul. The Wende aspires to go beyond what a traditional museum does, imagining a place where everyone is welcome and where there are always opportunities to learn and to grow in communion with one another.”

According to the agreement with the city, Wende will construct the affordable housing within four years, with possible extensions. The housing will include three affordable units and one manager’s unit and will become City property. Wende will handle the entitlement, construction, and maintenance costs. Half of the affordable units will be allocated to low-income asylum-seeking artists and refugees identified by AFI, who will not pay rent. The remaining units will house low-income local artists.

A temporary “tiny house” will be installed on-site during the permitting process for public viewing and occasional use by visiting artists. 

The City will approve agreements, contribute $600,000 towards construction, and waive fees totaling about $140,000. The City’s contribution represents about one-eighth of the total project cost.

The overall improvements are estimated at $4.8 million, including housing units, shared studio space, and landscaping.

Ongoing operational costs are estimated at $250,000 per year, supported by AFI and Wende’s fundraising efforts.

Judith Martin-Straw

Photo credit; architectural rendering of completed community center, as seen from the garden at the Wende- Shawmut Design

The Actors' Gang