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 –
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
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
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
“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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