SECOND STREET — Fine chocolates and the latest yoga gear are just some of the products Santa Monicans could buy as they make their way out of a new parking structure currently under construction on Second Street.
Members of the board for Downtown Santa Monica Inc., the body charged with managing and marketing Downtown for City Hall, got a first look Thursday at four proposed business that could be located on the ground floor of Parking Structure 6 when it is completed this winter.
They are: Electric Yoga, which specializes in yoga gear; Espresso Cielo, a coffee shop; KC Chocolatier, which sells sweets; and Orangetheory Fitness, a gym that uses an intense cardio and strength-training workout.
Parking Structure 6 has been closed since February 2012. The cost to construct the structure is $43.165 million, according to a 2011 city staff report. When finished, it will have three subterranean and eight above-ground parking levels with over 700 parking spaces, roughly doubling what was there before. There will also be enough room for up to 90 bicycles and 19 motorcycles.
There will be 7,042 total square feet of retail space, city officials said.
Barbara Bryan, vice chair of the Downtown board, said she was surprised on who the proposed tenants were and wondered what they would do four or five months in if business wasn’t going well. She was concerned about duplicating what is already available on Second Street. For example, Bryan said there are already two other yoga places on that street.
“There’s an urgency to rent it and I’m not sure what this urgency is,” said Bryan, who co-owns Interactive Cafe on Broadway. “The city itself really owes something to the businesses that have been here. It’s not just, ‘you’ve been here, time’s up, we are going to bring in something new.'”
Rob York, president of York Consulting Group, LLC, said city officials should “take a hard look” at the proposed tenants’ business plans and financial information.
“[S]ome board members felt there was an opportunity to get a little more diversity in the uses and the tenants,” York said. “Part of the issue was there wasn’t enough clarity or information on the tenants.”
That led the board to ask city officials to come back with more details before it could recommend tenants to the City Council for approval.
York said another substantial challenge was the property is going to be a “really, really raw space and there are no tenant improvements,” meaning any entrepreneur that comes in will have to invest a significant amount of money upfront on bathrooms and other essentials.
“It’s basically concrete slabs,” said York, who works as a consultant for Downtown Santa Monica Inc.
For board member Johannes Van Tilburg, of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh (VTBS Architects), the concern was about the design of the structure. Van Tilburg said he wanted to see the store fronts protrude to the front of the building and wanted to get the opinion of the City Hall architectural department.
“The lease space should come out to the front of the sidewalk,” Van Tilburg said.
Board member Bruria Finkel recommended that city officials do some “fresh thinking” on the space as well as the particular businesses that will go into it.
City officials, meanwhile, told the board part of the challenge was the retail space is a very “ill configured space.”
Jason Harris, the economic development manager for City Hall, said the real sense of urgency is not to have vacant storefront.
“Our true goal and intent here was to activate the space,” Harris said.
When City Hall reopened parking structures attached to Santa Monica Place there were vacant storefronts along the Broadway portion for several months. Those spaces have since been leased.