This year the Bayside District Corporation (BDC) is striving for a “new look” in the downtown district. To better understand what constitutes this “new look,” Bayside, the City of Santa Monica and the community have conducted several evaluations to identify areas of concern that can be addressed through improved maintenance and long-range capital improvement projects to improve our infrastructure.
Downtown Santa Monica and the Third Street Promenade are the original outdoor destinations for shopping and fine dining in Southern California, and the Bayside District Corporation is always working to preserve our edge over our competition. To this end, we are investigating a plan to add an ambassador program downtown to offer a friendly management face on the street. The BDC will also continue to work with the Santa Monica Police Department, add more lighting downtown and keep our alleys clean to meet this objective.
We’ve learned that because of our popularity, one of our biggest challenges is the lack of parking in the downtown area. Our City structures fill up rapidly and private lots are never far behind. Bayside will continue to work with the City of Santa Monica to determine creative ways for our visitors and employees to park, including working with the Big Blue Bus to have a tram run our parkers throughout downtown. The BDC is also focused on improving our parking structures and the maintenance of our streets. This includes significant design work to 2nd and 4th Streets, and the seismic retrofitting of structures #2, #4 and #5. Capital improvement projects also include a revamped signage program throughout the downtown area.
This year we expect Santa Monica Place mall to close for a major renovation. This will impact downtown in many ways and it is the job of the Bayside District Corporation to anticipate these challenges and mitigate them. Over the past few years, Santa Monica Place has become less of a destination location due to its dwindling number of stores. Still, despite this, its restrooms remain highly frequented. If the restrooms are closed with the rest of the mall, this closure cannot be underestimated. To this end, Bayside is working with the City to create a large, well lit, monitored restroom adjacent to the Third Street Promenade to fill this potential void.
Once Santa Monica Place closes its doors, the Third Street Promenade will be the principal driver of traffic for downtown Santa Monica. Our restaurants and retail establishments are excellent destinations for our visitors, but our studies show it is our three movie theaters that carry the bulk of the load. These theaters are older and lack the state of the art audio and visual equipment that keeps the turnstiles moving in newer theaters. Our theaters also have out of date seating and floor plans that make many of the seats unacceptable for viewing a movie. Stadium seating and improved audio/visual technology is imperative for our theaters.
Finally, the Bayside District Corporation relies on a grant from the City of Santa Monica for our funding. This grant is comprised of assessments generated from businesses in the Bayside District and downtown. To better serve our residents, businesses and visitors, Bayside seeks to better identify this funding and increase it to meet our growing needs. Increased funding can pay for capital improvement projects, an ambassador program and much, much more.
Today the Bayside District is wonderfully diverse and a successful district. Undoubtedly, there are countless business districts that envy our accomplishments. That said, we have taken a good hard look at ourselves and know that there is more we can do to better serve the community’s interests. We have identified our challenges, and will continue to think forwardly to address them.