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SMMUSD Steps Aside in Civic Redevelopment Plans, But Remains Interested

The District Introduced Its Own Proposal in September, But Other Organizations Have Expressed Their Desire

By Zach Armstrong

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District says it will not submit a proposal to rehabilitate the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in order to allow other alternatives to be considered. At the same time, it could still eventually buy the property for what it calls a “sound plan to revitalize the Civic as a multi-use performance / event facility that respects its historic and community significance.”

Last year, the City declared the Civic property as “surplus” under the Surplus Land Act. In accordance with that law, the California Department of Housing and Community Development must confirm the City alerted and hold negotiations with affordable housing providers so that the City could seek those options with other developers for commercial development. T

Although SMMUSD introduced its own proposal for the property’s revitalization in September, it made the decision to move aside since other organizations have expressed their desire and capability to find other purchasers who could also restore the Civic.

If the City doesn’t get a reasonable offer within a “reasonable time frame”, the district will re-engage with Santa Monica to develop a possible agreement. The presentation of SMMUSD’s plan to purchase and rehabilitate the Civic is available online here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1609E3zE4RINZ4BGWWvYKDbFyZ8QnxJnn/view

“We agree that it is in the public’s best interest to step aside at this time so other proposals may be considered by the City,” said Superintendent Dr. Antonio Shelton in a statement. “While the City has entertained prior proposals, it has been many years and this provides a renewed opportunity to expand their search for a potential buyer that meets the interests of the community. SMMUSD appreciates the ongoing partnership and collaborative spirit of this process.”

A recent column in Santa Monica Mirror by guest columnist Sherrill Kushner wrote that if the city sells the Civic to an entity that isn’t abided by its landmark status, it could get demolished. The Santa Monica School District, Kushner writes, is not bound by our local preservation regulations. 

“If Los Angeles and other cities can take such meticulous care of my father’s iconic, world-renowned creations, my hope is that Santa Monica will also and not sell the Civic to any party that cannot guarantee its future.” said Welton McDonald Becket, son of the Civic’s chief architect Welton (David) Becket, in Kushner’s column. “It is an architectural and cultural asset that can again draw crowds, be a source of pride and revenue for the city, its businesses, and residents.”

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