City of Redondo Beach narrows in on new use for historic 1931 library

by Garth Meyer

New uses for the old Redondo Beach library are coming as the city council voted July 12 to invite proposals based on select themes.

The list includes a pop-up site for rotating tenants, a traditional community center, an art-focused use and/or a cafe element. 

“The community is incredibly engaged with this facility. It is very beloved,” said Kelly Orta, senior management analyst for the city’s Department of Community Services. 

The request for proposals — to go out this fall – will also ask for ideas to incorporate private event rentals and no-cost space for community meetings.

The Department of Community Services sought public input this spring on new uses for the building with two surveys – one for residents, one for concessionaires – and held two open houses.

The historic, 1931 structure, overlooking the ocean in Veterans Park, closed in 1991. Seismic repairs were later made and a commercial kitchen added. The building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was in use as an event venue and community center until 2020.

“It needs a lot of work but it’s all doable,” said City Councilman Nils Nehrenheim, of the kitchen. “And we’re doing it. It’s a great space.”

One more element to be asked of a potential lessee is to showcase some history at the historical library.

City Manager Mike Witzanksy points out that a new use may mean less revenue for the city, compared to the previous arrangement with Spectrum Catering, the concessionaire whose lease ran out in 2020. 

The city earned more than $400,000 per year from the contract. 

After public gatherings were shut down at the onset of the pandemic, the city council later voted in January 2022 to consider a new venture with another lessee(s). 

A pop-up space is described as something in which, for example, a food-service operation may lease the building for three months, while one room is set aside for community-meeting space. ER

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