Santa Monica Lookout
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Agency Responsible for  Downtown Santa Monica Wins Top Awards

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

October 16, 2015 -- The agency responsible for Santa Monica’s downtown has taken home top awards for innovative thinking, transforming a corner parking lot into an ice-skating “winter wonderland” and placing ads in City parking structures.

Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) received both the “Pinnacle” award and merit honors during the 2015 Downtown Achievement Awards in San Francisco this month, said Ryan Porter, an associate with the Jeff Wagner Agency, a public relations firm that works with DTSM.

The awards from the International Downtown Association were part of its 61st Annual Conference and Tradeshow held September 30 through October2. The honors recognize “outstanding improvements” and “exceptional projects” by downtown officials.

The same international organization also named DTSM Inc. as “Downtown of the Month” in January, Porter said.

In the most recent awards, DTSM was selected as a “Pinnacle” recipient -- the highest level of recognition -- in the Leadership and Management Category for its “Taking a Leading Role” initiative. 

Faced with losing revenue when the City decided in 2012 to take more control of granting permits for downtown events, DTSM Inc. came up with the idea of family-friendly advertising on the parking structures flanking the Third Street Promenade.

The campaign generated more than $1.15 million in gross revenues, about $138,000 of which went to DTSM and $552,000 to the City, Porter said.

"Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. is privileged to be among only seven worldwide organizations recognized by the International Downtown Association with its highest honor," said Kathleen Rawson, chief executive officer for DTSM Inc.

DTSM also took merit honors in Events and Programming for the transformation of a corner parking lot into an ice-skating facility downtown, Porter said. The organization saw the lot at 5th Street and Arizona Avenue as a chance to create an 8,000- square -foot outdoor ice skating venue during the winter.

Porter said the idea was met with concern by the group’s board, especially at a time when the area's largest shopping center was closed for remodeling.

Rawson urged the board to approve funding for the rink, even at risk of initially operating as a loss, he said.

“The board took a leap of faith,” Porter said.

Ice at Santa Monica is now self-sustaining, attracting more than 58,000 skaters and generating more than $1 million in revenue in 2013-14. The new revenue has allowed DTSM to reinvest in  other community projects, he added.

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