Council Will Hear Proposal to Retrofit, Re-open and Revitalize the Civic

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In 2013, Santa Monica’s Landmark Civic Auditorium closed as needed; safety retrofits cost more than what the city could afford. Over the next decade, there were a series of starts and stops in the city’s efforts to retrofit and re-open the auditorium that once hosted major concerts, community events, and even the Oscars.

Last night, in closed session, the Council voted to hold a public hearing on an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Revitalization Partners Group (RPG) to seismically upgrade, restore, program, and operate the Civic as a performing arts and cultural center. (Agenda, Item 4d). Following last night’s vote, RPG will come back to Council for a public hearing during a regular meeting sometime this summer where more details of their proposal will be made public and be open for public comment.

While the exact details of RPG’s proposal aren’t public, their proposal is backed by Save the Civic, a volunteer organization that was formed last year when the city was going through a state-mandated process that saw the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica Community Corporation each create hybrid proposals for the Civic that would have seen the Civic reopened as a performing arts venue but also serve as a sports facility for Samohi or share space with a new affordable housing proposal.

Save the Civic was founded with the goal of providing opportunities for the city to re-open the Civic but under the management of a private organization so that it could still be publicly owned, but that the retrofits would be entirely paid for by a new lessee. Save the Civic claims that this current proposal meets those goals.

Save the Civic was not the only group that testified last night in favor of moving forward with negotiations with RPG.

“ We ask Council to take the steps necessary to allow RPG (Revitalization Partners Group LLC) to develop a proposal,” writes Carol Lemlein and Ruthann Lehrer, Advocacy Co-Chairs for the Santa Monica Conservancy. 

“The Conservancy has been very concerned that for more than 10 years, the Civic Auditorium has been standing vacant, in need of seismic upgrade and restoration before it can once again be put to use as a community resource. Continued vacancy is a threat to this important historic building!”

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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