The Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade

For years, Third Street in Santa Monica was moribund. Not much was  happening at all. The City Council, in a truly innovative idea, closed off Third Street to cars, making it pedestrian only, in hopes of attracting people and new stores. It took a while, but after a few years three movie chains moved in, followed by a Barnes and Noble at one end and a Borders at the other.

The Third Street Promenade was on a roll. Lots of street performers on weekends in this three block pedestrian zone. Many quirky little fun stores and a large food court filled with mom and pop restaurants.

Then is began to change again, first slowly, now very rapidly. The independent little stores, like the Midnight Special, that made it a unique place got forced out by rapidly escalating rents. The food court was demolished to make room for a Bebe’s. Yuck.

I was there yesterday. The original stores have almost all vanished, replaced mostly by upscale clothing chains. The personality is gone. It’s becoming “Beverly Hills by the Sea”, and this is not a good thing.

The nearby area is also changing rapidly. Affordable housing is vanishing. Large expensive new condos and apartments are popping up all over the area. Hey that’s a nice one bedroom apartment, maybe a little small, but only $1500 a month. The always traffic clogged Santa Monica becomes ever more congested.

Is this progress? No. Does L.A. need another Beverly Hills? Of course not. Is a nearly gridlocked downtown selling pricey clothes a good thing? Not nearly.
A story happening many places elsewhere too.