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GFBNEC Announces Approval of Long-Term Little Tokyo Lease Agreement

Councilmember Jose Huizar is joined by representatives from Go For Broke National Education Center, Little Tokyo Service Center and Little Tokyo Community Council on Wednesday after the L.A. City Council voted unanimously to approve a land-lease agreement with Go For Broke. (Courtesy Go For Broke National Education Center)

Go For Broke National Education Center on June 5 announced that the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a long-term lease agreement that paves the way to expand GFBNEC’s permanent facilities as part of a major mixed-use development in the historic Little Tokyo district.

The lease agreement grants GFBNEC control over a key parcel of land located directly north of the Go For Broke Monument (see Plans call for the construction of a five-story, transit-oriented development that will house GFBNEC’s permanent exhibit areas and administrative offices, along with commercial space and low-income housing for military veterans and families.

The monument, which will mark its 20th anniversary this month, honors more than 16,000 Japanese American World War II veterans who fought to defend the U.S. despite the incarceration of approximately 120,000 legal residents and citizens of Japanese ancestry.

Dr. Mitchell T. Maki, GFBNEC’s chief executive officer and president, cited the efforts of City Councilmember José Huizar and the District 14 staff, along with the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), for their work in helping to ensure the future of GFBNEC and the historic Little Tokyo district. The lease is one element of a master plan for the First Street North area, which will include much-needed green space and easy access to mass transit to attract visitors from around the region.

“We’re delighted with the passage of this lease,” Maki said. “It’s truly a win-win for the City of Los Angeles, Little Tokyo and GFBNEC. We will now be able to work on developing a permanent location for GFBNEC right next to our monument, which will help to create an attractive, vibrant element of the First Street North area. We also will be building much-needed housing for the area, which will be located in the heart of Little Tokyo’s unique mix of historic and cultural institutions.”

“It was my distinct pleasure to lead the effort in garnering City Council support for this long-term lease,” Huizar said. “Go For Broke National Education Center pays tribute to Japanese American soldiers who in the face of extreme racism and prejudice showed our nation what true American patriotism looks like. GFBNEC is going to be a profound addition to Little Tokyo, educating and engaging future generations about the many and distinct contributions Japanese Americans have made, and continue to make, to our city and country.”

LTSC welcomed the council’s vote as a major step in the site’s redevelopment. “This is exciting!” Takao Suzuki, LTSC’s director of community economic development, said. “With the amended ground lease in hand, we can now proceed with conducting the environmental due diligence for a much-needed mixed-use, transit-oriented affordable housing development on the historic block of Little Tokyo. Today’s approval of the amended ground lease is a testament to the strength of our partnership with the city, community and Go For Broke National Education Center.”

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