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

Friday, 14 Jun 2013, 9:02:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

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.

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.

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