Holocaust center closes on Dania Beach property

Its official: The Holocaust Education and Documentation Center has a new home in Dania Beach.

The museum recently closed on a $2.2 million building at 303 N. Federal Hwy., where it will house more than 7,000 Holocaust artifacts.

“The survivors have been waiting a long time for this,” said Rositta Kenigsberg, the center’s executive vice president. “There is a sense of urgency because unfortunately it is a diminishing population.”

The new building is just a shell and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, including new flooring, an air conditioning system and utilities, said attorney Steve Geller. The first phase will include moving the library and installing the center’s tank and rail car. The museum expects to move from its current Hollywood location in about six months, he said.

The center decided to move the museum after years of battling with Hollywood about the building it bought from the city in 2004 for $1.2 million. The museum signed a 15-year deal to pay the city $16,000 a month in principal and interest to the city, but after the center realized how much work the building at 2031 Harrison St. needed, it never paid.

Museum officials say the Hollywood building was a lemon and they had to feed millions into repairs including a new room, an elevator, more sprinklers and new stucco.

The second story of the building was condemned by the city and the 15,000-square-foot building was no longer large enough to house the center’s collection.

In March, the city filed a foreclosure action against the center. That’s when museum leaders decided it would be best to find a new location.

“It’s an amicable divorce,” said Geller. “We are both going our own ways.”

What will happen with the Hollywood building — which was never used as a museum — is still being discussed. Geller said the options are either to walk away and hand over the deed to the city or allow the property to be sold at a short sale.

City Spokeswoman Raelin Storey said the city is still having talks with center officials to work something out that is in everyone’s best interest.

“The city has always wished the Holocaust Documentation Center success and we hope success will be found in their new location,” she said.

Kenigsberg said while being in Hollywood did slow down their goal of opening a museum, it definitely didn’t quash their dreams.

“We are not going to look back,” she said. “We are going to look forward.”

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