Downtown Santa Monica Inc. announces Third Street Promenade Economic Vitality Plan
By Kamala Kirk
In response to major shifts in consumer trends and shopping patterns, new technology, changing demographics and the overall competitive landscape made more challenging by the impacts of the pandemic, Downtown Santa Monica Inc. (DTSM) has released the Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Economic Vitality Plan.
The focused, strategic and action-oriented plan will serve as a guide to help reimagine the visitor experience on the Promenade and provide private property owners along the pedestrian street with resources, guidance and the policy reform they need to reinvest and reconfigure their commercial space.
Developed in six months using the latest research and input from a diverse group of stakeholders, the Vitality Plan identifies changes to and use and zoning regulations for the Third Street Promenade to enable more flexibility around the use of private space and reconsiders the regulations that limit private properties to the traditional retail, dining and office model. They’re trying to create a modern and equitable downtown inclusive of experiential retail, live entertainment, nightlife, cultural offerings, small scale manufacturing, housing, office space and more.
“As communities are considering meaningful ways to recover from the economic devastation brought about by the pandemic DTSM and the city of Santa Monica together with property owners, passionate local residents and industry experts have laid forth a significant infrastructure investment to address the ongoing needs of the Promenade and the downtown district,” said DTSM Board Chair Barry Snell.
“Our hope is the Vitality Plan will help encourage better use of public and private property in an effort to help recapture the street’s vibrancy while building an exciting, diverse and inclusive new era that meets the evolving needs of our residents and the greater Santa Monica community for years to come.”
The proposed plan also calls for more rooftop bars and restaurants, underground hideaways that foster nightlife and give the downtown a layer of excitement and sense of discovery, a new cultural and entertainment venue that could provide sought-after entertainment experiences not available west of the 405 and the possible creation of a new signature public space in the form of a Town Square that would host outdoor concerts, makers markets and provide the community with more open space.
Progress on initiatives outlined in the Vitality Plan is already underway. DTSM is installing new lighting and interactive elements tailored to capitalize on the increased demand for public art and fixtures that make for engaging and fun moments to be shared on social media.
DTSM’s economic development team has also created a leasing strategy to build a more diverse and inclusive business mix with a focus on small-scale manufacturers and artisans who do not have a brick-and-mortar presence in Santa Monica.
DTSM purchased six kiosks that will be strategically placed along the Promenade, with the goal of giving these entrepreneurs opportunities to grow their businesses at a scale that works for them.
In response to pandemic-related emergency health orders the council has permitted additional opportunities for outdoor dining, retail and fitness, as well as entertainment uses along the Promenade.
The Promenade’s eclectic mix of street performers have returned and DTSM has ramped up the production of free community events including live music, exercise classes, kids crafts, poetry readings and art walks.
To foster a safe and welcoming environment, the ambassador program has expanded to provide safety-related services in addition to the hospitality, custodial and homeless outreach efforts already in place.
“The Vitality Plan will be a vital resource with which we can all work together to help generate new and innovative uses of private properties,” said Promenade Advisory Committee member and property owner Robert Resnick.
“It focuses on creating an exciting new experience for our diverse and expanding customer base. Recommended zoning changes will be instrumental for tenant strategies on each of the three blocks, with tools to help landlords adapt their space to emerging market demands. These initiatives, supported by robust public space activation steeped in art, culture and diversity is our roadmap for the next generation of Third Street Promenade.”