In less than three weeks, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium will undergo full closure. It may be at least five years before the venue could ever be used again as a cultural destination. And if the venue is indeed revived, the tab will run at least $50 million.
The City Council spent nearly two hours at its Tuesday meeting discussing options of how to save the Civic Auditorium.
Cultural Affairs manager Jessica Cusick reminded the council that the Civic Auditorium would be closed for at least five years – possibly longer.
In the interim, she suggested utilizing the venue’s East Wing for meetings and city events during the closure period.
Another potential use: renting the main hall out as a filming location.
Yet the 800-pound gorilla in the room, as former Council member Bobby Shriver uttered on several occasions, the main issue is how to come up with the necessary funds to preserve what Cusick called “an important cultural resource.”
According to Cusick, only two funding mechanisms exist to bring the Civic Auditorium back to life: private funding or a voter-approved general obligation bond.
There are, however, several options within the private funding alternative, such as a long-term lease, development on the parking lot adjacent to the venue, naming rights, foreign investment, or a private fundraising campaign.
“Chances are we’re going to have to do a little bit of everything on this list in order to put together the financing package that is going to be necessary to deliver the type of cultural resource that the community is looking for,” Cusick said.
So just how much money is needed to save the Civic Auditorium? At least $50 million, Cusick said, a figure she added was low according to an Urban Land Institute study.
Another alternative: only make the most necessary infrastructure improvements now, such as seismic upgrades and accessibility, and revisit other upgrades later. If only a partial renovation of critical improvements is pursued in the short term, the tab would be $23 million.
Stay tuned to The Mirror next week for insight of what civic leaders, residents, and others said about how the Civic Auditorium could be saved.