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City Requests Proposals for Civic Auditorium


Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

January 10, 2024 -- The City has issued a request for "letters of interest" to revitalize the shuttered Civic Auditorium as an entertainment, events and cultural arts venue, City officials announced Wednesday.

Interested parties have until January 31 to submit a proposal for the 65-year-old structure, which was designated a local historic landmark in 2001 and has been shuttered for a decade.

"The city is seeking an individual or entity to lease the site and, through a Disposition and Development Agreement in the form of a long-term ground lease, to renovate, reopen, program and manage the property," City officials said.

The vendors should have experience "renovating and redeveloping historic structures" and "operating and programming cultural arts venues."

They also should have "financial resources for the development, and a commitment to community engagement and input," according to the request.

The move comes after efforts by the City to lease or sell the property it had declared "surplus land" attracted two interested parties -- the School District and Community Corporation, the City largest affordable housing provider.

Under the State's Surplus Land Act, the City was required to prioritize proposals to use the shuttered site for affordable housing, parks and recreation.

While the City entertained the proposals in closed session, civic activists mounted a campaign last summer to restore the 65-year-old Civic to is original use as a renown cultural venue that once hosted legendary rock concerts and the Academy Awards.

After the Council rejected Community Corp's proposal, the newly formed group Save the Civic pushed the Council to also reject the School District's nearly $227 million plan to turn the three-acre site in a multi-purpose space for the adjacent Samohi campus ("School District Releases Plans for Civic Auditorium," August 11, 2023).

In October, the District pulled its proposal in order to allow the City "to expand their search for a potential buyer that meets the interests of the community."

The following month, State officials determined the City had complied with the Surplus Land Act and gave it the go-ahead to negotiate with any interested party ("City Free to Negotiate Civic Sale with Commercial Developers," November 22, 2023).

On December 12, the Council voted unanimously to direct City Manager Davis White to issue the letter of interest ("Efforts to Restore The Civic Enter New Phase," December 8, 2023).

Editor's note: This article was updated Monday to reflect that Save the Civic, and not preservationists, opposed the School District's plan ("Movement to Save The Civic Picks Up Steam," August 3, 2023) .

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