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When Bruce Warren went to see the new plans unveiled for downtown’s Horton Plaza renovation late last month, he noticed one thing missing.
The drawings show open spaces for community gatherings and farmers markets, a park, a revitalized fountain, a water park and fancy lights. All this instead of the former Robinsons-May building that has housed a few short-lived tenants but has largely sat vacant. The front of the plaza and the fenced-off fountain have made the plaza “a blot on the landscape,” according to the planning materials from Centre City Development Corp., the city of San Diego’s downtown redevelopment arm.
But excluded from the plans: The Arts Tix booth, a place to buy tickets for a slew of local theater, dance and music performances. The booth has been a fixture for the coalition of arts groups called the Performing Arts League for more than 20 years.
Warren spoke up.
“Is this the plan?” he said.
“Well, yes it is,” a planner replied.
“Well, this is pretty discouraging,” Warren said.
Warren is the league’s board chairman. The coalition has had a tumultuous few months and is currently operating without a director. While the board straightens out some past debts, the Arts Tix booth is still open, selling discount tickets to local plays and performances.
A letter Warren sent to league members earlier this summer mentioned the chance the booth could be eliminated, but he said last week he didn’t realize the plans would be formalized without the booth until the meeting in September.
Warren says the league is “launching a campaign” to have it included in the Horton Plaza redesign.
“It’s a good location, it’s an icon,” he said. “That’s where people go.”
But that campaign doesn’t sound likely to change the plans.
CCDC’s plans for the public plaza don’t make room for any of the tenants that are on that land now — the ticket booth, Abercrombie and Fitch, Sam Goody’s and a cinema, said spokeswoman Michelle Ganon.
Those tenants will need to work out their future home with the mall’s owner, Westfield.
Ganon said CCDC has been trying to help the league find other options for the ticket-selling window could, which could perhaps mean sharing space with the Balboa Theatre, the restored historic building that is part of Horton Plaza.
“We’re not saying, ‘OK, no, forget it, we’re hanging you out to dry,’” she said.
I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531.
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