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Council Committee Requests Details On Proposed Downtown Arts And Entertainment District

A 10News map of the proposed entertainment and arts district in downtown San Diego.
A 10News map of the proposed entertainment and arts district in downtown San Diego.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A proposed arts and entertainment district meant to enliven a 58-block section of downtown San Diego north of Broadway stalled Wednesday in the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee.

Concerns were expressed over a lack of specifics included in a glitzy presentation to committee members, so backers were asked to do some fine-tuning and return at a later date.

On Tuesday, the city's Independent Budget Analyst estimated the district could generate $5 million in revenue within three years.


Backers 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 make a presentation to the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee on Wednesday.

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 IBA said 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 Theater 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 Gleeson, the City of San Diego will have to create exceptions to its sign ordinance to allow large digital boards.