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News, City Council, Santa Monica, Civic Center

Full Renovation Of Santa Monica Civic Auditorium Bill: At Least $50 Million

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium at 1855 Main Street is poised to close by June 30.
Courtesy Photo
The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium at 1855 Main Street is poised to close by June 30.

Posted Jun. 14, 2013, 9:02 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

In less than three weeks, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium will undergo full closure. It may be at least five years before the venue could ever be used again as a cultural destination. And if the venue is indeed revived, the tab will run at least $50 million.

The City Council spent nearly two hours at its Tuesday meeting discussing options of how to save the Civic Auditorium.

Cultural Affairs manager Jessica Cusick reminded the council that the Civic Auditorium would be closed for at least five years – possibly longer.

In the interim, she suggested utilizing the venue’s East Wing for meetings and city events during the closure period.

Another potential use: renting the main hall out as a filming location.

Yet the 800-pound gorilla in the room, as former Council member Bobby Shriver uttered on several occasions, the main issue is how to come up with the necessary funds to preserve what Cusick called “an important cultural resource.”

According to Cusick, only two funding mechanisms exist to bring the Civic Auditorium back to life: private funding or a voter-approved general obligation bond.

There are, however, several options within the private funding alternative, such as a long-term lease, development on the parking lot adjacent to the venue, naming rights, foreign investment, or a private fundraising campaign.

“Chances are we’re going to have to do a little bit of everything on this list in order to put together the financing package that is going to be necessary to deliver the type of cultural resource that the community is looking for,” Cusick said.

So just how much money is needed to save the Civic Auditorium? At least $50 million, Cusick said, a figure she added was low according to an Urban Land Institute study.

Another alternative: only make the most necessary infrastructure improvements now, such as seismic upgrades and accessibility, and revisit other upgrades later. If only a partial renovation of critical improvements is pursued in the short term, the tab would be $23 million.

Stay tuned to The Mirror next week for insight of what civic leaders, residents, and others said about how the Civic Auditorium could be saved.

Post a comment


Jun. 14, 2013, 12:49:04 pm

D'Lynn Waldron said...

An earthquake retrofit is unnecessary, therefore the Civic can be used as it is for all the regular events. It will cost $525,000 this coming fiscal year to have the Civic closed. All the ancillary income our local businesses make from the annual events is being lost, as is the income from parking for the events, and the rental of the Civic. No one but the developers who want to build the recommended 300 room hotel, 480 condos and 2 acres of commercial buildings on the parking lot benefit from having no more large events in the Civic that need that parking lot.

Jun. 14, 2013, 1:24:42 pm

stewart said...

I will be interested to know what will be done with the floor? It moves does it not? Is that a viable feature after all? Will it be retained?

Jun. 15, 2013, 10:53:28 am

Jodi Summers said...

Bravo to the City Council for recognizing the architectural significance of the Civic Auditorium. We look forward to working with the canvas that will become the Cultural Campus.

Jun. 16, 2013, 8:49:36 pm

Amy said...

I'm concerned about the possibility of naming rights. This should be done properly. I don't want to walk into (for example) Burger King Auditorium sometime in the future. All my life I've known the auditorium as the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and this name has cachet all over the world. People know about the legendary auditorium, and where it's located; in the beautiful city of Santa Monica, California. One could find a Burger King Auditorium, or any similar name, just about anywhere, and the name would be an embarrassment to the city.

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