The Santa Monica City Council has authorized the use of city-owned property on Fifth Street south of Arizona Avenue for a seasonal ice skating rink.

The council authorized city manager Lamont Ewell to begin negotiations for a license agreement with the Bayside District Corporation, which is requesting permission to use the property at 1324 and 1326 Fifth St. as an ice skating rink during two months of winter.

The rink is scheduled to open on November 21st, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

An “official” grand opening will be held Thursday, November 29th, when U.S. figure skater Randy Gardner is set to make an appearance with his former skating partner Tai Babilonia. The two won gold at the 1979 World Figure Skating Championships.

“Plans are coming together,” said Bayside District executive director Kathleen Rawson. “We are very excited. We’ve been working on this project on and off for the last few years.”

Rawson said that finding a location in Santa Monica to accommodate a seasonal ice rink has been one of the biggest hurdles of the project.

“We’re just delighted that it’s actually going to happen and I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for families to spend memorable time together and for the community to really get into the spirit of the holiday,” Rawson said. “It should be lots of fun.”

The property to be used for the ice rink is currently used for surface parking, which Parking Valet Services manages under a license agreement with the city.

Parking Valet Services will be given 30 days notice to temporarily vacate the lot “so it can make other arrangements with those who park on the lot,” said Andy Angle, director of housing and economic development for the city.

Then the parking lot will be converted into an approximate 6,000-square-foot ice skating rink — and will be open from November 21st to January 7th, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

It will offer “casual skating, skating lessons, sale of skating-related souvenirs and merchandise, and entertainment programming, including special programs benefiting the Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club, PAL [Police Athletic League], YMCA and other community programs,” Angle said.

Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown said he is “particularly glad that [by] working with the Bayside District and the rink provider, the City of Santa Monica will be able to provide skating opportunities to kids from different backgrounds and economic situations through special programs with community groups.”

The rink will be able to accommodate about 300 skaters per hour and Bayside District expects about 25,000 skaters during the eight-week operation.

The Bayside District will be responsible for marketing, decorations, electrical, water, telephone and trash at the rink.

Ice Rink Events — which constructs, designs, operates and manufactures permanent and seasonal ice rinks — will install and manage the ice rink, said Rawson.

The Bayside District is investing about $200,000 in the project, but will receive ten percent of the net revenue from skate lessons, group programming and the sale of souvenirs.

Rates for skate lessons and group programming have not yet been determined.

The impact for the city will be about $18,000 in foregone parking revenue and $20,000 for electricity and the installation of an electrical panel, Angle said.

But city staff feels that the “level of public benefits” makes the fiscal support from the city worth it.

The city will also make the license available to the Bayside District Corporation for $1.

“I’ve been around long enough to remember this isn’t the first time we’ve had ice skating in downtown Santa Monica,” said McKeown. “The Ice Chalet used to be right down the block at Fifth [Street] and Broadway.

“What’s exciting is, now — 24 years after the Ice Chalet closed — to offer ice skating in conjunction with holiday shopping for the area around the thriving Third Street Promenade. We’ve been trying to do this for several years and couldn’t find the right site.

“Now that the city owns a suitable property, we’re ready to strap on our skates and see what happens when paradise freezes over.”