Two new mixed-use developments are getting underway in North Park as that neighborhood continues its transformation. First up Foundation for Form’s (You are Here, Counterpoint buildings in Golden Hill) project at the defunct post office, where they’ve torn up the parking lot and plan to build “5,000 square feet of retail space and 32 apartments in a 4 story building”, says North Park Scene. The post office building will remain, although its proposed use is unclear at this time. And down 30th at Upas, the Jonathan Segal project there will be called the North Parker, according to Tom Shess, (or North Park Lofts according to North Park Scene) and feature up to six restaurants in 8000 square feet of commercial space with 27 lofts above. Sounds like mixed-use projects on a scale we haven’t seen in these parts in several years.
Meanwhile North Park also saw the opening of Swoon Dessert Bar in the former Cafe Carpe Diem spot Saturday night; we dropped in and sampled some of their treats and coffee from various local roasters, the latter including Cafe Calabria, Bird Rock and San Diego Coffee and Tea Collective:
On a disappointing note, we witnessed the new signage down University for forthcoming sports bar the End Zone, in the former Foundry location. It’s an unfortunate exception to an area full of great (and often vertically-oriented) signs that have a character consistent with the neighborhood.
– The SANDAG Uptown Bike Corridor project had its second meeting this week and there was general agreement among the community group attendees on removing a lane from 5th (and potentially 4th) for a cycle track/class 1 bikeway. However, several people pointed out that the SANDAG map shunts cyclists over to 3rd at Walnut; the lanes should go all the way to Washington on 4th and 5th, because that’s where the businesses are. With three lanes in each direction (and two more on 6th), it certainly wouldn’t impede traffic flow, and could accomplish the traffic calming on these streets that the city has studied but is too broke to do much about, except install a few stop signs.
Another general theme from the meeting was that cycle routes should be on commercial corridors, for safety/lighting/visibility reasons, to leverage business districts for ongoing maintenance costs, and because businesses and bike racks are located there. That means University instead of the SANDAG-identified east-west route of Robinson, although converting Robinson to one way eastbound west of 163 was recommended. Other notes: making cycling routes to/from Balboa Park less intimidating for beginning cyclists; installing secure facilities/corrals for cyclists at the Park; and a separated bike lane for cyclists coming up Bachman from Mission Valley. The topographic barrier to cycling up Bachman and Washington was also discussed – could MTS buses be outfitted with larger cycle racks for such routes?
The next meeting of the Uptown Bike Corridor group should take place in April.
– Speaking of Balboa Park, it was a relief to see the Jacobs Bypass Bridge project denied by Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor because it violated the city’s municipal code. That the former Mayor and City Council would attempt to alter a historic resource without being able to justify that *not* doing so would cause the city economic hardship (in violation of its own laws) is laughable. And now Jacobs lackey/city attorney Jan Goldsmith may attempt to exempt the city from its own laws for this project. Thankfully we elected a mayor who isn’t owned by Jacobs, unlike his election challengers Fletcher and DeMaio, or the city’s non-profit press for that matter. Potshots against SOHO by vertebrae-challenged Todd Gloria were particularly revealing. Meanwhile it’s been amusing to see the near-daily denunciations of the plan by the editorial board at the U-T… Manchester and Lynch clearly aren’t used to not getting their way in this town.
While I’m personally grateful for Irwin Jacobs’ philanthrophy, the economic benefit of Qualcomm to San Diego, and his financial support of President Obama, his heavy-handed and stubborn approach on this project was frustrating. The issues regarding damage to the park raised by SOHO were legitimate, not simply “obstructionist”. SOHO and the mayor both offered to again sit down and negotiate after the court decision, yet Jacobs confirmed it was still his way or the highway by pulling support and refusing to meet with them.
San Diegans deserve better than a powerful few deciding how our public spaces should be treated. Here’s one alternative approach for increasing pedestrian space in Plaza de Panama.
– Well this blog post is too long and preachy already so it’s time to break out the transit bullets:
- Bus rapid transit construction begins on I-15, including (finally!) stops at El Cajon and University; target completion is next year.
- Due to funding constraints, UCSD Transportation will discontinue its Free Bus Zone program and replace it with decreasing regional transit pass discounts. Note to those contemplating buying a pass: now you can claim $245/month in public transit expenses on your taxes.
- The draft California State Rail Plan is up; no high speed rail for San Diego for decades but “San Diego region expects to see more than $2 billion in LOSSAN rail corridor improvements over the next 40 years, including double-tracking the rail corridor from Orange County to downtown San Diego”.
- Uptown News says a new shuttle will run from the DMV parking lot in Hillcrest and loop down Univerity, First and back on Washington. Thursday-Saturday, 6-10 PM, for a six-month pilot test. Use it or lose it!