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Downtown Santa Monica to Embrace 'Changing Times'
By Niki Cervantes
August 31, 2017 -- Downtown Santa Monica, the city’s powerful economic driver, welcomed 16 million visitors last year and generated more than $1 billion in sales tax, despite the exits of numerous Third Street Promenade shops and other reversals, according to a report released today.
“The past year has been one of discovery and evolution in Downtown Santa Monica,” the final 2016-2017 fiscal year report from Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) said.
The Expo Light Rail line and its terminus downtown finally opened in May 2016, the DTSM report said, as did the Colorado Esplanade ("Expo Line to Santa Monica Hits Target Ridership 13 Years Ahead of Schedule," July 12, 2017).
The new crowds prompted the expansion of DTSM’s “Ambassador Program” to nearby Tongva Park and Palisades Park.
Those changes led to the creation of a public arts project, in partnership with the City’s Public Arts Commission ("Yarn Artist HOTTEA Launches Downtown Santa Monica Outdoor Art Series," August 25, 2016).
Still, the report references the “unfortunate closures of many national brands” as Santa Monica’s downtown -- like the world of brick-and-mortar retailers in general -- tries to deal with the increasing rise of internet shopping.
Among the recent vacancies on the Promenade Recent was the large space occupied by Nasty Gal and the medium-sized space home to American Apparel. Both filed for bankruptcy and closed all their stores ("Retail Vacancies on Santa Monica's Promenade Offer Opportunities, Downtown Officials Say," July 26, 2017).
Early next year, Barnes and Noble is to vacate the large corner building at the northeastern end of the Promenade.
In total, about a dozen businesses left. The report notes DTSM established a Promenade Tenancy Committee early this year to support its mix of retail, restaurant, entertainment and other uses, and to help prospective, in-progress and existing tenants.
DTSM officials also were disappointed when negotiations for a state-of-the-art luxe movie theatre on the site of Parking Structure #3 on Fourth Street ended in late June after the developer, Macerich G3, LLC, pulled out over profitability concerns ("Hopes on Hold for Arclight Movie Theater in Downtown Santa Monica," August 24, 2017).
The four-story, 100,000-square-foot Arclight Theater development proposed for 1318 4th Street would have included an IMAX screen, which the City hoped would reverse the flow of theater goers who must now leave Santa Monica to see blockbusters on an enormous screen.
Nonetheless, the report said, DTSM “remains committed to the goal of creating a world-class movie theatre in the district, either at Parking Structure #1 or Parking Structure #3.”
DTSM is a private nonprofit organization created by the City to oversee downtown.
Its report this year -- from CEO Kathleen Rawson and Board Chair Barbara Tenzer -- also showed a change in “quality of life interactions.”
Reports related to skateboarding/bicycling/skating made up the single largest total. This fiscal year, those reports reached 19,473, compared to 21,276 in the previous fiscal year.
Incidents of sleeping in public jumped significantly, from 1,381 reported in 2015-2016 to 2,832 reported in 2016-2017.
Despite the challenges of 2016-2017, the report said the new fiscal year is being greeted with “a plan to be open minded about new ideas and concepts, to embrace the changing times and to celebrate the community and champion its needs.”
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