City Council to consider arts district proposal

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SAN DIEGO — A proposed arts and entertainment district meant to enliven a 58-block section of downtown San Diego north of Broadway is scheduled to be considered by the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee Wednesday.

downtown-san-diegoBackers of the idea, originally put forth last August, say they would use entertainment, art, improved lighting and large digital signs to spruce up an area that, at best, is quieter than the bustling Gaslamp District south of Broadway.

The proposed area also includes C Street, the roadway used by the San Diego trolley, where blight is “undeniable,” according to council President Todd Gloria.

The district, bordered by Broadway to the south, Ash Street to the north, Front Street to the west and 10th. Avenue to the east, would be administered by the Downtown San Diego Partnership. The organization will deliver a presentation to the committee at 2 p.m., at the City Administration

The partnership estimates a $500,000 budget for the district, funded by taking 15 percent of advertising revenue from the big signs. Of that, $300,000 would be spent on programming and more than $100,000 would go to helping the area’s homeless, the report said. The remainder would be spent on administration and marketing.

But the city’s Independent Budget Analyst reported that, based on data presented in August, revenue could reach $5 million in three years, with nearly $1 million of that going to fund the district.

While supporters liken their plan to the Denver Theatre District, the IBA said it is closer in concept to Philadelphia’s Market Street East Advertising District, where property owners were allowed to install large digitally animated signs in exchange for making property improvements.

According to Deputy City Attorney Carrie Gleason, the City of San Diego will have to create exceptions to its sign ordinance to allow large digital boards.

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