Downtown Pasadena Museum Building Sold to Santa Barbara Philanthropist

Published : Monday, April 1, 2019 | 5:20 AM

The building which housed the now-shuttered Pasadena Museum of California Art and was the residence of its visionaries, Robert and Arlene Oltman, is set to close escrow Monday in a sale to a Santa Barbara investor described as a “philanthropist.”

A real estate industry source said the building, which is located at 490 East Union Street, was to be sold for slightly less than $8 million.

The Oltmans completed the striking three-story, 29,627-square-foot structure in 2002.

That same year they oversaw the opening of the PMCA, as the institution came to be called, hoping to fill a cultural void by focusing exclusively on works by California artists.

After 16 years of artistically significant exhibitions and innumerable nonprofit events overshadowed by financial struggles and challenging legal issues, the Museum’s board voted to close on Oct. 7, 2018.

“There’s certainly a great deal of sorrow having to close the Museum,” Robert Oltman said Sunday. “It was a wonderful experience that both Arlene, my bride, and I had here, while it was open. I am just sorry that we could not sustain the Museum.”

Bill Ukropina, the broker representing the Oltmans in the sale, said the buyer is a Santa Barbara woman he believes intends to use the building for the training “of men and women studying to be ministers, and for youth ministries.”

Little is publicly known about the buyer at this writing.

The Oltmans intend to remain in Pasadena.

“Arlene and I, both of us will stay busy within the city,” Robert said. “We plan on that, so we’ll be around.”

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