June 25, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica-Malibu School District Unveils Plan to Revive Historic Civic Auditorium

District’s Vision Aims to Breathe New Life into Santa Monica’s Iconic Civic Auditorium

By Dolores Quintana

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has unveiled its intentions to present a comprehensive strategy to revitalize the Santa Monica High School Campus Plan and restore the revered Civic Auditorium (“Civic”). The proposed plan envisions a refurbishment of the Civic that aligns its structural and architectural features with contemporary construction standards while also adapting its intended purpose to cater to the needs of the District, the City, and the Santa Monica community.

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, a versatile multipurpose venue owned by the City of Santa Monica, holds a rich history as a local landmark. Constructed in 1958, it has served as a venue for concerts, exhibitions, and sporting events and even hosted the Academy Awards.

Over time, the Civic’s condition experienced significant deterioration, culminating in its closure in 2013 due to seismic and accessibility concerns. Acknowledging the Civic as a “surplus,” the Santa Monica City Council designated both the facility and its premises in October 2022. Prompted by this designation, the District expressed interest in acquiring the Civic and initiated a feasibility study in March 2023. The study aimed to assess the viability and potential benefits of procuring, restoring, and upgrading the Civic for educational, recreational, and entertainment purposes to serve the community.

The feasibility study highlights the District’s vision for a revitalized structure that can serve as a multipurpose venue, encompassing functionalities such as a gymnasium, theater, auditorium, concert hall, exhibition space, and community center. The study delves into the prospects of rejuvenating the facility while preserving its historical essence.

Superintendent Dr. Antonio Shelton stated, “SMMUSD has a strong interest in purchasing and preserving this historic multi-use facility, providing the City and residents with an opportunity for a trusted community partner to restore and bring this community treasure back to life. We look forward to gaining community input in this process as we seek to restore this historic property as an educational, entertainment, recreational, and community facility that everyone will be proud of.”

Incorporating the Civic into the school district’s modernization endeavors would expand the land area available to Santa Monica High School, expediting the ongoing enhancements of the Samohi Campus Plan. This integration is projected to reduce the overall implementation timeline by nearly eight years and minimize costs for taxpayers in Santa Monica.

Any restoration project by the District would also involve commemorating the people displaced from the Belmar neighborhood, underscoring the Civic’s historical significance. The feasibility study findings are scheduled to be presented at the Board of Education meeting on August 17, 2023. Pending the Board’s evaluation and determination, negotiations with the City of Santa Monica for the Civic Auditorium’s acquisition will be pursued.

Community engagement will play a vital role in shaping the Civic Auditorium’s future, and the District encourages community members to participate in the discussions and share their input. The District urges the community to support this unique opportunity to restore and repurpose the Civic for the betterment of Santa Monica. Comments and inquiries can be directed to Let’s Talk: www.smmusd.org/Superintendent by clicking on the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium Discussion button. The complete meeting agenda can be found at: https://www.smmusd.org/domain/29

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