After an extended battle with the city of Hollywood, the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center is moving out.
Its new home: a 25,000-square-foot property in Dania Beach.
“This will look like a Holocaust museum should look,” said Steve Geller, the attorney representing the Holocaust museum.
The building, at 303 N. Federal Hwy., is currently just a shell but is in good condition, Geller said.
The same cannot be said for the property the museum agreed in 2004 to purchase from Hollywood for $1.2 million. The second story of the building at 2031 Harrison St. was condemned. The building was slapped with code violations. Sprinkler lines were exposed, and rooms remained unpainted.
The 15,000-square-foot building was supposed to house a museum and exhibit videos, DVDs and paper manuscripts of 2,400 eyewitness testimonies to the Holocaust. But with the museum unable to open to the public, the artifacts sat in boxes, and the rooms were empty except for construction debris.
Relations between museum executives and Hollywood officials deteriorated. Although the Holocaust center had signed a 15-year deal to pay the city $16,000 a month in principal and interest on the building’s purchase, it never paid the city a penny.
Instead, the museum put $3 million into repairs, including a new room, elevator, sprinklers and stucco, said Rositta Kenigsberg, the Holocaust center’s president.
Last February, Hollywood said it would file a foreclosure action against the museum.
The museum had a counter-offer: It would pay nothing and stay for free until it could find a new location — but not in Hollywood.
“We want to be somewhere where we are wanted,” said Geller.
Dania Beach Mayor Pat Flury said her city has been working with the Holocaust center, and is excited to have the museum move in.
“This is just one more addition that will bring people to the community,” she said.
The new space will have room for the center’s 7,000-plus artifacts, plus a rail car and a tank the center will soon be getting.
Kenigsberg said the new building means the museum can continue its mission of education.
“It means we will finally be able to tell the story of the Holocaust,” she said Thursday.
The additional space in Dania Beach will give the museum plenty of room to display photographs and artifacts, and to house a library.
The price the museum paid for the building, previously owned by Mosh LLC, was not disclosed Thursday.
Closing on the building’s sale is expected within four months, but Geller said the process of moving should take about a year.
Although he said he believes Hollywood owes the museum money, Geller said it might be in everyone’s interest to avoid litigation altogether.
“It will be easier and clearer for everyone if we all go our separate ways,” he said. “We need to focus on the mission of the museum.”
Meanwhile, Hollywood’s foreclosure action is still pending.
Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober said Thursday he wishes the museum the best.
“I don’t harbor any ill will toward them,” Bober said. “I wanted them to be successful in Hollywood, but wherever they go I want them to be successful.”