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Summer Update

Summer Update

Summer is (sort of) here in San Diego – seems like a good time to run through the photo roll and post some updates… Pacific Gate at Broadway and Pacific has completed construction.  Here’s a picture of the public art out front from several weeks ago: 

From the developer’s press release:

Jaume Plensa’s Pacific Soul – with countless passersby stopping to photograph the installation – located in the public plaza at Pacific Gate, and one of the most important additions to downtown San Diego’s robust art scene. Pacific Soul is a sculpture that stands 25 ft. tall and utilizes characters from eight alphabets, including Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and Latin in the form of the human figure

(Updated 7/2: added new Pacific Gate and Intercontinental photos)

 

Nearby, the Intercontinental Hotel opens in September and will feature “Five food and beverage outlets, including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, which will feature an open kitchen in the lobby. More casual concepts include the 19th floor rooftop bar, a pool bar, and a café.” 

And work started this month on Manchester Pacific Gateway, which is expected to be completed in 2021 – an ambitious schedule for a seven-building project covering eight blocks:

Just south of there, Seaport Village‘s welcome obliteration is now scheduled to begin in 2021 (subscription required).  In the meantime, it’s still the only harbor-front path segment from the Hilton all they way to Spanish Landing where bike and scooter riding is prohibited:

That won’t be the case with the Seaport’s replacement, which will have an integrated bay-front bike path.

But it’s East Village that’s seeing the most construction activity in the city right now.  The Alexan at 300 14th Ave is finished and leasing:

Across 14th, construction continues on the 222-unit, 23-story K1 apartment building:

K1 will include an “adjoining mixed-use, low-rise annex designed by Rob Wellington Quigley” – who also designed the downtown library and his personal residence nearby:: 

Pinnacle on the Park‘s second tower continues to grow and will top out at 45 stories (one fewer than the first tower) and 472 units:

Ballpark Village is nearing completion with 713 units across its 37-story tower and shorter buildings:

This rendering from the Welcome to San Diego blog provides another perspective:  

The parking lot in the lower right hand corner of that rendering, next to the 12th and Imperial trolley station, may be the location referred to in this week’s news regarding a state cap and trade funding award for a new 400-unit affordable housing project

A $20 million award will help bankroll a 400-unit housing project operated by Father Joe’s Villages next to the 12th and Imperial transit station in East Village, as well as more than two miles of protected bike lanes on both 6th Avenue and J Street.

Makers Quarter is located in East Village around 15th and F, and will contain a variety of residential, office and commercial properties. Their website states, “Our mission is to cultivate a neighborhood for San Diego’s Entrepreneurs, Artists, and Makers. We aim to preserve the existing Maker Spirit that already thrives here, while consciously developing lifestyle, residential, and business properties, designed to reflect the artistic integrity of the neighborhood.” 

While Makers’ first establishments, 10 Barrel Brewing and Punchbowl Social (which opened earlier this month) are big improvements over what was(n’t) there before, I’m not sure they represent the Maker Spirit originally envisioned.  Case in point: Opinion: 10 Barrel is NOT local beer).  I’m also unclear how luxury condos fit into that vision. But I am a sucker for ping pong, and Punchbowl Social – shown below – has that and much more in the way of games:

The 23,500-square-foot two-tiered complex — built inside a long-abandoned boxing gym at 1485 E St. — combines a made-from-scratch restaurant and three bars with eight bowling lanes, karaoke rooms, vintage arcade games, 8-man foosball, bocce, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong, darts and table games.

The Block D office building at Makers Quarter is set to open this summer:

Elsewhere, Jonathan Segal’s Polk and Park in North Park/University Heights is complete, with restaurant shop BFD moving in from down the street: 

Segal’s The Fort project in Mission Hills looks about done, and its height has got to be infuriating the Mission Hills set – despite being located next to an equally tall building: 

Fort Oak restaurant, from the Trust restaurant folks, will open in The Fort this fall

James Coffee has opened in the new Louie building on 4th in Bankers Hill:

Communal Coffee has been open for a few months now in South Park and they’ve crated a really cozy space:

And finally, since it’s summertime, here’s some irrelevant pics of one of my favorite warm-ish weather hangouts, Panama 66:

 

 

 

Return of the Plaza de Panama

Return of the Plaza de Panama

Like a Comic-Con zombie staggering back to life, the Irwin Jacobs Plaza de Panama Autotopia has returned to Balboa Park.  Despite Jacobs walking away after his defeat in court a few years back, the intrusive project has been resurrected by fact-challenged Park institutions determined to squeeze every last car into the Park.  No matter that Balboa Park is one of the few large public green spaces in all of Uptown and downtown, or that a 650-space parking garage for zoo employees was recently added, or that parking lots at the south end of the park are under-utilized.

I biked through the park on 4th of July weekend and found the Inspiration Point lots across Park Boulevard empty. A 2012 parking study found the lots and their 1100+ spaces, served by a tram, are indeed usually empty on weekends:

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Back inside the park, the southernmost lots on the west side of Park also had hundreds of spaces open.  In fact, the same study shows that on any given day there are 1200-1800 parking spaces available at Balboa Park, mostly in these lots.

Given that there’s a tram running directly from these lots to the institutions demanding more parking, I assumed there had to be signage up to direct drivers there.  Surely the city would do this before spending $50 million on another parking garage and bridge?  But this is the only sign as you head south from the always-full Organ Pavilion parking lot, and it’s not about parking:

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Adding some way-finding signs to the parking lots and tram seems like a low-cost way to maximize existing parking resources.  But given some of the bizarre, parking-entitled arguments for the new garage (“my elderly mother isn’t going to wait for a tram to the Old Globe” – despite a brand new drop-off area on Globe Way for Globe patrons), why start using common sense now?

— Remember when Hillcrest residents opposed the Mr. Robinson project on Park because parking?  Well we visited its new ground-floor restaurant, Trust, a couple weeks back for brunch and had no problem finding any.   It seems other patrons didn’t either (perhaps some of them Ubered, walked or biked) – because the place was full.  I liked the interior design, especially the wall behind the bar, along with the space’s big windows to the street and ample patio outside:


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San Diego Magazine has a much better review of Trust’s food than anything I can write, but my fried chicken sandwich was pretty amazing – the spicy ssam sauce, chili and pickles really brought it to another level.

— The Uptown Gateway Council has put up a video showing their vision for 4th to 6th Aves in Hillcrest south of University, including the long-vacant Pernicano’s restaurant:

One component of the Uptown Gateway may be a hotel, and on a trip to Palm Springs last month the Virgin Hotel going up there reminded me of how Hillcrest could use a modern boutique hotel:

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The hotel is part of a multi-block downtown revitalization project that replaces a dead shopping mall, and includes this nearly-completed building:

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Like Hillcrest, building heights have been a sticking point, and the Virgin hotel’s height was reduced to no more than 69 feet.  This is still taller than the 50/65′ heights specified in the Uptown interim height ordinance (which turns 8 years old this month).  It seems odd that Palm Springs, a city of less than 50,000 people, has a greater height limit than an urban neighborhood near downtown in a city of 1.3 million.  But Uptown Planners and the city planning department are still wrangling over the final building heights for the blocks in the Uptown Gateway area. Much of the debate centers over whether density should be added near Uptown’s extensive public transit, but at a recent Uptown Planners meeting, one caring resident declared that young people shouldn’t be able to live there – unless they can save up the money to afford a house like she did all those years ago.

— The Port of San Diego has selected the winning project to redevelop Seaport Village – the Seaport project from Protea Waterfront Development:

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Contrary to many residents, I’m not a big fan of the current Seaport Village.  It’s largely geared to tourists (including some awful restaurants), has half its prime land devoted to surface parking, requires bicyclists to dismount when riding its bayfront, and sports Cape Cod-style architecture that’s totally out of place in southern California.  With the city encouraging more people to live and work downtown for a variety of reasons, shouldn’t our bayfront serve both tourists and residents?

The Protea proposal is a mixed bag of ideas, some with more potential for the above than others, but at least it doesn’t include an 18,000 seat indoor arena like a competing proposal did.  Why would you put a giant, enclosed arena where the bay view is the main attraction?  The tower ride (and aquarium) is a reminder that tourism will still be a big driver, but at least it’s not another ferris wheel.  I like the terraced green space built into the tower base, actually:

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Here’s an overview of the project:

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I think the above map is the only one which shows the pedestrian bridge (bottom right) planned to connect Embarcadero Marina Park North and South, which is a neat idea.  (Still waiting for someone to implement my infeasible idea of a retractible pedestrian/bike bridge connecting Marina Park to Coronado.)  It also shows the Market Street pedestrian/market area – similar to Pike’s Place – connecting to the G Street Pier.  Here’s a zoomed-in view of the heart of the project, followed by a rendering of Market Street:

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Pacific Place, a pedestrian plaza at the southwestern edge of the project, looks out on a giant floating screen in this rendering.  Yes that is a picture of a whale jumping out of the water of a screen on the bay:
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A wide promenade is planned for the entire bayfront (as far as I can tell) that will allow bicyclists to actually ride through without dismounting, along with additional space for pedestrians.  A boardwalk for pedestrians will extend beyond that:


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I also like the “beach” shown here:

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I’m hardly an expert on these types of projects, just giving my initial thoughts here, but the SD Environment and Design Council’s recommended guidelines for the development of Seaport Village are probably worth reading if you’re interested in the future of this area.