City Council Discusses Future of Third Street Promenade
February 10, 2021 10:32 AM
At its meeting last night, the Santa Monica City Council held a study session on the future of the Third Street Promenade, the famous three-block pedestrian-only public street and entertainment district known for shopping, films, open air dining, and vibrant public life. Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, the Promenade is a vital economic engine for the City and major contributor to community-serving programs, generating 15% of sales tax revenues citywide. Last night’s discussion was an early opportunity to gather Council and community input on the Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Economic Vitality Plan, a co-led effort between the City of Santa Monica and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM). The partnership reflects the unique aspects of the Promenade as an important public community gathering space and a collection of privately-owned buildings.
“The Third Street Promenade is a public street, meant for all to enjoy and it will be a foundation of our economic recovery,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “In these three blocks, we can creatively adapt both the retail and public spaces for new uses, tenants, and experiences that are a magnet for our local residents and a draw for the region as well. We seek diverse perspectives from across the community to engage in this process and help create a plan for an iconic, welcoming pedestrian district of the future.”
The Promenade’s future success and resilience will depend on the following key components, which Council explored in their discussion:
- Evolving the Promenade toward an authentic commercial district reflective of and attractive to Santa Monica’s neighborhoods and locals, which will in turn restore its appeal as a regional draw as well.
- Expanding the offerings to include other cultural, entertainment, office, and residential uses for economic feasibility given the changed retail environment.
- Existing buildings will require reinvestment and reconfiguration to suit the demands of modern retailers, particularly emerging, independent and/or local brands that will differentiate the Promenade from competitor destinations.
- Adapting experiences to the preferences of future generations, families, and all ages.
- Reimagining the public space to be a true plaza with ample seating, culturally rich experiences that appeal to all ages, and a focus on music, dance, and visual arts.
- Ensuring the Promenade is a safe and inviting space for families to enjoy.
- Broad resident engagement and neighborhood input to ensure that the future mix of uses and activations reflects what they want to see out of the City’s “living room”.
The Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Economic Vitality Plan follows the study and planning effort known as Promenade 3.0, adopted in November 2019. The new plan is a key part of the City’s economic recovery strategy and will address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail and dining landscape, and a 40% vacancy rate, which largely pre-dates the pandemic. A speedy recovery for the Promenade will directly impact the timeline for restoration and expansion of community services.
DTSM has selected MIG, with support from Streetsense, to advance the next phase of the project, including resident and stakeholder engagement. By early summer, DTSM and City staff will return to City Council to present the plan, obtain community feedback, and receive Council direction on policy development and implementation.