Campus to sell Japanese garden and estate to meet intent of property's donors

[Read Chancellor Gene Block's Feb. 9 Daily Bruin op-ed on the garden.]
 
This release was updated Jan. 25, 2012
 
Fulfilling an obligation to fund wide-ranging research and professorships, UCLA is selling the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden and an adjoining home to raise money for endowments identified by the couple who donated the property.

Located a mile from the campus, in Bel-Air, the garden and home on two acres were donated to the University of California in 1965 by Edward W. Carter, once chair of the UC Board of Regents, and his wife, Hannah Carter.

Campus officials estimate the sale of the property would generate adequate revenues to establish the approximately $4.2 million in endowments and professorships identified by the Carter estate to benefit UCLA's academic mission. Among them are professorships in business administration at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and in internal medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; a professorship and a research center in 17th-century European art; and funding for use at the discretion of the director of UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute.

Any additional money generated by the sale would be utilized to help fund campus priorities at the discretion of the chancellor, campus officials said. The sale of the garden and home is part of a larger effort by UCLA to sell underutilized properties in order to generate revenue to support core educational programs and the public mission of the university.

The UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden was designed by landscape architects and gardeners from Kyoto, Japan. Some of the structures in the garden, such as the gate, the garden house, the shrine and bridges, were built in Japan and reassembled here. Campus officials are evaluating which artifacts have the greatest cultural, architectural and historical significance. In recognition of the Carters' generosity, those items will be retained and displayed at an appropriate campus location.
 
Organizations and individuals with a specific interest in Japanese gardens will be contacted as potential bidders. The property is not expected to go on the market until January 2012.

Despite being listed on travel websites and in visitor publications, the garden hosts only 2,000 visitors per year, by reservation only. The residential location and the availability of just three parking spaces severely restrict use of the property and its hours of operation. [Update, Jan. 25, 2012: The university leases the three spaces from an adjacent property owner under an agreement that expires on March 31, 2012, or upon sale of the property, whichever is soonest.]
 
Campus officials estimate that landscaping and maintenance of the garden cost $120,000 a year. Staffing and docent expenses come to an additional $19,000 annually. Deferred maintenance costs are estimated at $90,000.
 
"The decision to sell the garden was made only after extensive deliberation and analysis," UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh said. "While we value the garden and the cultural heritage it represents, in this time of financial constraints, we need to direct our resources toward UCLA's core academic priorities of teaching and research."

Agreements with the Carter estate stipulated that if UCLA ever sold the house, $500,000 from the proceeds would be used to establish an endowment for the maintenance of the garden in perpetuity. Agreements also called for proceeds to fund the specified professorships and research.

However, campus officials estimate that the endowment would generate no more than $25,000 a year, far less than necessary to cover the cost of maintaining the garden. Maintaining the garden in perpetuity, officials say, would jeopardize UCLA's ability to fulfill the Carters' intent to benefit the university's academic mission.

Edward Carter died in 1996. Hannah Carter vacated the residence in 2006 and died in 2009. In September 2010, a judge cleared the way for a possible sale, granting UCLA's request to set aside the obligation to maintain the garden in perpetuity so that the academic intent of the Carters' gift can be fulfilled.

"The sale of the estate and the garden allows us to ensure that we meet the intent of the Carters to directly benefit UCLA's academic mission through their generous gift," said Rhea Turteltaub, UCLA's vice chancellor for external affairs.

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