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Resident, Biz Owner to Head Pico District
By Jorge Casuso
January 9 -- Realtor Robert Kronovet looks up and down Pico Boulevard and sees plenty of potential. There’s the High School and the College, four major hotels, a new park and a couple of large chain stores, in addition to pockets of small businesses.
“We have a tremendous number of assets on Pico,” says Kronovet, a former City Council and Rent Control Board candidate, who was elected Tuesday night to chair the Pico Business Improvement District.
“We’re trying to generate positive attitudes,” Kronovet says. “We’re going to keep monitoring our growth and the positive energy of the City.”
The Pico District board hopes to forge an identity for a thoroughfare that claims more than 80 diverse businesses -- from small ma and pa shops to Trader Joe’s to the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which sponsors the Grammys.
“We’re building our own success,” says Kronovet, who finished a respectable fourth in his 2006 bid to become the first non-tenant advocate elected to the Rent Board since it was created nearly three decades ago. “We want more involvement from the merchants.”
The district, which has $140,000 in the bank and an $80,000 budget to promote the area, has used its voice to lobby for everything from new signage for merchants to more officers to patrol the streets, Kronovet says.
The Pico Artists at Work Festival doubled its turnout last year and this year, the district will promote area businesses with an event that will bring two large London buses to shuttle visitors up and down the boulevard.
Although Pico has a visual identity forged in part by medians and light fixtures that help tie the eclectic street together, it lacks the cohesive nature of pedestrian strips such as The Third Street Promenade, Montana Avenue and Main Street.
Instead of long rows of shops and restaurants, Pico claims small pockets of shops separated by public institutions and parks.
But like other business districts in the city, it has grappled with the sometimes conflicting interests of merchants and residents, particularly over street parking and noise.
Both a Pico resident and a business owner, Kronovet sees a synergy between those who run businesses on the strip and the neighbors who live nearby.
“Merchants have always played a role in the prosperity of an area,” says Kronovet, who lives a block from Pico and has his realty firm on the strip. “If the businesses fall apart, the residences fall apart.”