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Downtown Officials Unveil Plan to Revitalize The Promenade
By Jorge Casuso
August 5, 2021 -- Imagine visiting the Promenade and enjoying a concert at a cultural venue, browsing a makers market at a new Town Square, then topping off the night at a rooftop bar or underground hideaway.
Those are among the venues envisioned under a plan Downtown officials unveiled this week that would revitalize the three-block-long walk street hard hit by high-tech shopping trends and crippled by the cornavirus shutdown.
Six months in the making, the Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Economic Vitality Plan "will serve as a guide to help reimagine the visitor experience on the Promenade," Downtown officials said.
It also provides private property owners along the iconic walk street "with resources, guidance and the policy reform they need to reinvest and reconfigure their commercial space."
“Our hope is the Vitality Plan will help encourage better use of public and private property in an effort to help recapture the street’s vibrancy," said Barry Snell, Board Chair of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM), which runs the city's Central Business District.
Downtown official also hope the plan will help usher in "an exciting, diverse and inclusive new era that meets the evolving needs of our residents and the greater Santa Monica community for years to come,” Snell said.
The plan lays our proposed changes to land use and zoning regulations that currently "limit private properties to the traditional retail, dining and office model," officials said.
The proposed changes would "enable more flexibility around the use of private space," allowing landlords to "adapt their space to emerging market demands," said property owner Robert Resnick, a member of the Promenade Advisory Committee.
“The Vitality Plan will be a vital resource with which we can all work together to help generate new and innovative uses of private properties," Resnick said.
"It focuses on creating an exciting new experience for our diverse and expanding customer base.”
The plan comes as the Promenade faces longstanding challenges posed by increased competition, changing demographics, new technology and a radical shift in consumer trends and shopping patterns, officials said.
The challenges have been heightened by the impacts of the COVID-19 emergency, which shut down most of Santa Monica's economy for more than a year.
"This is in an effort to create a modern and equitable downtown inclusive of experiential retail, live entertainment, nightlife, cultural offerings, small scale manufacturing, housing, office space and more," DTSM officials said.
The plan calls for more rooftop bars and restaurants and underground hideaways in alleys that "foster nightlife and give the downtown a layer of excitement and sense of discovery."
It also calls for a new cultural and entertainment venue near 3rd Street and Arizona Avenue "that could provide sought-after entertainment experiences not currently available west of the 405."
In addition, the plan envisions an adjacent "signature public space in the form of a Town Square that would host outdoor concerts, makers markets and provide the community with more open space," officials said.
The groundwork for the plan is already being laid, Downtown officials said.
DTSM is installing new lighting and interactive elements "tailored to capitalize on the increased demand for public art and fixtures that make for engaging and fun moments to be shared on social media," officials said.
The agency ’s economic development team has developed a leasing strategy "to build a more diverse and inclusive business mix with a focus on small-scale manufacturers and artisans who do not currently have a brick-and-mortar presence in Santa Monica."
DTSM has purchased six kiosks "that will be strategically placed along the Promenade, with the goal of giving these entrepreneurs opportunities to grow their businesses at a scale that works for them," Downtown officials said.
“As communities are considering meaningful ways to recover from the economic devastation brought about by the pandemic, DTSM and the City of Santa Monica together with property owners, passionate local residents and industry experts have laid forth a significant infrastructure investment to address the ongoing needs of the Promenade and the downtown district,” Snell said.
For more information on the Vitality Plan, visit DowntownSM.com/Promenade. For the latest resources and information, follow @DTSantaMonica on Instagram and Twitter or DowntownSantaMonica on Facebook.
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