May 25, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Shorts: Closed and Empty Storefronts Populate Oceanfront Walk

The Road to Recovery Has Been Slow and Steady for This Resilient International Tourist Destination

By Nick Antonicello

Is the Venice Boardwalk back on a road to recovery?

A cursory review of the vacancy rate along Oceanfront Walk (OFW) here in Venice is quite high, with at least three dozen or so storefronts and retailers closed as of Tuesday, April 2nd.

With It’s Sugar about to close its doors, it will join Ben & Jerry’s as just another vacant retailer along the beach that is becoming more the norm than the exception.

While sources tell Yo! Venice there has been a considerable spike in rents along Oceanfront Walk, in all the time I have lived in Venice I have never seen the vacancies at these levels.

However when compared to the Third Street Promenade of Santa Monica, Venice seems to be holding it’s own from an economic standpoint.

Many believe the pandemic had a considerable impact at the beach coupled with an out-of-control homeless crisis that seems to have subsided, and with things coming back to some degree as to the crowds and tourists here in Venice, the vacancy rate has clearly spiked.

As I strolled along the boardwalk Tuesday afternoon and several prominent locales remain for lease, the volume of visitors seemed higher than usual as this week was Spring Break for many high schools, colleges and universities.

Approximately 28,000 people visit Venice on an annual basis.  

Venice Beach currently  has a population of some 40,000 people since 2021 and Venice is ranked as the #3 most walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles. Muscle Beach, the popular outdoor gym on the boardwalk,  has over 100 years of history and was recently restored and renovated during the pandemic.

With the crowds seemingly returning, the beach and boardwalk will always be an obvious tourist destination and economic engine, but maybe the time has come for LA city officials to think about a workable plan of action moving forward as issues like homelessness need to be seriously addressed as LA begins the process of hosting the 2028 Summer Olympics as Venice will in all probability be an obvious stop by those in attendance during that 17-day international extravaganza.

Nick Antonicello is a thirty-one year resident of Venice and serves on the Oceanfront Walk Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org). Have a take or tip all things Venice? E-mail the author at nanntoni@mindspring.com

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