Work with me on this one as we pick it apart one by one.
Eight years ago this city embraced the prospect of providing a home in the downtown for a Holocaust museum and education center that would fit nicely into the city’s intellectual core: its arts and cultural district.
This is the Prime Error from which the rest of this tale of woe flows. What sick pups concluded that an institution dedicated to memorializing the hideous genocidal slaughter of innocent Europeans was a good match for a city’s arts, culture, and entertainment district? What’s the link here — pizza ovens?
Like many grand projects, this one ran into unforeseen obstacles in renovating an old building and in raising funds. The center is functional but the museum has yet to open.
The obstacles were unforeseen only by the willingly blind. They took over a decrepit building — a failed fetish club — and promptly got over the heads in all the evils of historically sub-standard south Florida construction issues. Everything they wanted to do ended up costing multiples of what they planned.
But ‘way worse than that, they never conducted the kind of pre-campaign research they should have to measure potential support for the project. They just plunged ahead, assuming the money would be there, and it wasn’t. It still isn’t. Their board failed, their fundraising failed, and eight years on the project languishes without direction or plan.
On Monday morning, the City Commission, acting as its redevelopment board, will consider a plan to forgive $1.7 million the Holocaust Documentation & Education Center owes in principal and interest for the purchase of its building, at 2031 Harrison St.
Forgive it? They should fucking double it. Has the CRA Board a/k/a City Commission reviewed the museum’s business plan to see how they’ll keep the place operating, assuming they even get it open? Do they figure there will be hordes of curious cultural tourists flocking in to see dusty documentation of inhumane atrocities? Is this their shrewd assessment of the perfect complementary experience to a cocktail, dining experience, and maybe some music in the arts and entertainment district?
The city, however, is facing a $38 million budget deficit in 2012 and has voted tentatively to increase property taxes and firefighting fees. So the prospect of its redevelopment arm writing off a $1.7 million loan is creating some consternation.
It defies common sense, let alone business sense. It’s a classic case of throwing of good money after bad, of not knowing when to pick up your chips and cut your losses. This place is a failure operated by losers. Maybe there’s a place for this institution, but it isn’t downtown Hollywood, and not on the public’s nickel.
I’m trying to resist bad jokes about a Holocaust Museum’s gift shop — wash-away decal tattoos with crude numbers, and “My Grandparents Died At Dachau and All I Got are These Lousy Striped Pajamas” (or tee shirt)? — but as you see, I failed. Bad taste, and while that’s not my point, it illustrates how inappropriate this kind of institution is for this location And now, incredibly, the cash-strapped city wants to pay for its own bad decision with its citizens’ tax dollars.
I’m still wondering why the fetish club failed.