Nederlander Eyes Santa Monica Civic

The fabled but aging Santa Monica Civic Auditorium may get a shot in the arm with a public/private partnership being negotiated with Nederlander Concerts.

The California beach town’s city council on Sept. 22 authorized negotiations with the concert promoter in hopes that the venue, which formerly hosted the Academy Awards and several historic concerts, can get both physical and programming upgrades.

Because negotiations are in the preliminary stage, Nederlander wouldn’t divulge details of its plans for the 3,500-capacity Santa Monica venue but did confirm the talks through a spokeswoman.

Nederlander, in addition to its stature as a concert and theatrical promoter, is quickly making a name for itself by taking on classic buildings, most recently the San Jose Civic Auditorium, giving them makeovers and returning them to glory. It also operates the Los Angeles Greek Theatre, Santa Barbara Bowl and Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre.

Santa Monica began seeking a new manager of the Civic Auditorium last summer, and Nederlander was the sole company to submit a statement of qualifications. City Hall staffers were satisfied.

“This is based on their years of experience, their financial capacity, their expertise in working with historic facilities,” Jessica Cusick, Santa Monica’s cultural affair manager, wrote in a staff report that was cited by the Santa Monica Daily Press. “First and foremost in our minds was their national reputation for quality and breadth of the products they provide.”

The city council voted in May to earmark roughly $25 million in redevelopment agency funds to pay for renovations, according to the Daily Press.

Architect Welton Becket, whose work includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown L.A. and Hollywood’s iconic Capitol Records building, designed the Santa Monica Civic, which was built in 1958.

It’s hosted film festivals, trade shows and more than a few legendary concerts, including The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Prince.