new development for el cajon blvd

new development for el cajon blvd

El Cajon Boulevard in North Park has always had a lot of potential for new residential growth – it’s well-served by public transit (including the new rapid 215 route starting next month), and as a commercial corridor, it would allow for mixed-use development while preserving the remaining Craftsman architecture in the area. Yet apart from the circa-2000 residential projects at 30th, few new units have been added. That’s about to change with the purchase of the long-vacant structure at 2030 El Cajon, the former lighting business that was decorated with murals years ago:



This and the adjacent buildings on the lot will be replaced with a 180-unit mixed use building. There’s a rendering of it on the North Park Facebook page which I can’t get to display here. Not too crazy about the design, to be honest, but it’s good to hear that “North Park is seeing significant interest from developers looking for high-quality infill sites, especially entitled sites of this scale”, according to the above article.

The same developer has also purchased the Pole Position strip club across from Tiger Tiger. Now if we can just get someone to buy the old Blockbuster building across from 2030 El Cajon… On a related note, City Beat points out “Officials are well on their way to putting together a $100-million investment fund aimed at building high-density “transit villages” along sections of El Cajon Boulevard and Imperial Avenue”.

– Speaking of unused potential, I was riding the trolley a few weeks ago and gazed out on the large empty lot just west of Fashion Valley and the golf course that extends from there almost all the way to I-5. While San Diego has become extremely unaffordable for many residents, one way to address it is by building housing near transit. Now here’s a huge developable area next to the trolley – and it’s still being used for a golf course? So it was good news to hear this area will finally be developed with 4000 units over 20 years as the $2 billion Riverfront Project, along with a new trolley station.

– Meanwhile, developers are tearing down the low-quality 1970’s office buildings that take up way too much space in Mission Valley, to build multi-family housing:

After the three Class C buildings at 6950, 7020, and 7050 Friars Road are leveled, LandCap would construct a multifamily development of 180 to 200-plus units on the vacant 5.42-acre lot.
-snip-
Hinckley said he, along with Holbrook and Degler, are eying other properties in Mission Valley where they might tear down other office buildings to develop more multifamily projects.
Hinckley said this is a trend that will likely lead to an eventual transformation of much of Mission Valley, where so-called “woody walkup” office buildings predominate.
Alan Nevin — the Xpera Group economic and market research director, who was instrumental in putting the LandCap deal together — said that the demolition of obsolete office buildings in favor of multifamily or mixed-use projects is something that needs to happen in a valley with too much low-quality office space.

More good news on housing as neighbor complaints against mixed-use project BLVD63 have been tossed out by a judge. For a community that passed a ban on converting houses into mini-dorms a while back, you’d think they’d be a bit more open-minded about addressing the demand for housing that caused the conversions… Back in North Park, that International Fashion Company (which is neither international nor fashionable) space is up for lease – finally… Also in North Park, there’s a happy hour smart growth conversation next Wednesday at the Modern Times Flavordome:

We are gathering some of the community’s top experts, planners and Council President Todd Gloria to discuss the subject of Smart Growth. This interactive and lively meeting of the minds will focus on creative urban design and ways to build attractive places for people to live work and play.

– Here in Kensington, Kensington Video is also finally closing. We used to enjoy going there but stopped once we got Netflix. While KV was a unique, funky place oozing with neighborhood history, it also featured an aromatic carpet and hadn’t seen a fresh coat of exterior paint since before we moved here in 2000. And what was with the bars on the windows and closing at 7 PM? I won’t miss those reminders of how far Kensington has come in the past 20 years… Meanwhile, right around the corner from us, Pappalecco is opening another location.

– This being San Diego, not everything is kosher on the land use front. Couples are still buying houses 65 miles from downtown and driving separately each way, each day of the week. Did you know long commutes are associated with the following health impacts: higher blood pressure; higher stress; greater exhaustion; greater risk of heart disease; higher blood sugar; higher cholesterol; more missed days of work; less sleep; greater daytime sleepiness; greater risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation… A parklet was added next to the Live Wire at El Cajon and Alabama, with Todd Gloria there to celebrate Park(ing) Day:


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…but not everyone shared the enthusiasm:


A bar-goer complaining about reduced parking on a street that actually *added* spaces after a head-in parking conversion, plus a new parklet. Why not just take Uber or Lyft if you need to drive to the bar?

– Over in East Village, the owner of several bars complains that more needs to be done to provide affordable parking, yet doesn’t say how that should be done, or who should pay for it. Doesn’t the city already provide abundant cheap/free on-street parking?

Parking in East Village is expensive because of demand – the neighborhood is popular after decades of neglect. This demand also drives up land costs (and in turn, parking lot/garage costs). Land costs are determined by supply and demand – and parking shouldn’t be? We have little affordable housing downtown, but affordable parking is job #1 for some I guess.

– It’s the friendly (“Live somewhere else!”) community of Bay Park that still takes the NIMBY cake in San Diego these days. A bunch of grumpy baby boomers took to the streets last weekend to remind us that it’s their “ease of access” to Morena Boulevard (by car of course – there was no sidewalk on Morena where they were marching in the photo below) that’s way more important than whether their kids can afford to live there:


While they raised a balloon to protest the proposed 60 foot height limit, this isn’t just about putting their view of a man-made lagoon above the city’s middle-class housing crisis. No, it’s really about keeping all new housing and traffic out of Bay Park – James Lamattery of Raise the Balloon is even quoted as saying “we don’t want any condos or apartments in our community”.

Older residents that have always driven everywhere are unable to comprehend that younger San Diegans just might use that trolley going in right next door (the protesters largely oppose that too). This despite a record 95 million passenger trips on the trolley last year, and strong demand for mass transit by younger Americans. Listen to the “ease of access” link above or the “dense development” clip below and it sure sounds like a war on millennials by what some call the most selfish generation our country has produced.

Just-barely-a-boomer councilman Ed Harris was along for the ride, proclaiming that “San Diego needs dense development, just not (in my district)“. For a guy who doesn’t even need to worry about re-election, that’s some real political courage!

– We’re all familiar with the Ed Harris brand of NIMBYism, but a different kind gurgled up in South Park recently with the announcement of a tiny Target at the Gala Foods store. My favorite reaction quote had to be “No Target in my neighborhood! I prefer to drive to Mission Valley Target – I know I’m selfish”. Hey, I’m not thrilled about the (tiny) Target, but people who want to keep their neighborhood pure of “corporate America” (while demanding a corporate Trader Joes/Whole Foods/etc for the site instead) then drive all the way to Mission Valley come off as a bit hypocritical. What about the benefits of reduced/shorter vehicle trips, freeway traffic and carbon emissions as people walk/bike/bus/short drive to a Target in their own neighborhood? Again, the major concern appeared to be increased traffic, but any business that’s marginally more successful than the failing Gala will generate more traffic.

As I’ve reduced my annual vehicle mileage from 12K to 6K per year, I have intimate knowledge that driving is the most convenient mode of transit for much of San Diego. From sweaty bike rides up steep hills to late-arriving buses, mixing in alternative transit to your trips can be a challenge. But driving becomes less convenient once a region reaches a certain population. That’s when it makes sense for public transit to be more convenient to give people more options. Instead of widening 30th for (tiny) Target’s additional car traffic, why not lobby for more frequent bus service and/or lines for the neighborhood?

4 thoughts on “new development for el cajon blvd

  1. Thanks Broderick. I’ve been stumped as to why it’s taken so long to develop prime locations like this along El Cajon Boulevard. There’s such demand to live in Uptown based on rental and home prices. Maybe the property owners just wanted too much money? I’m excited that things are finally moving now with multiple projects planned for ECB, University and 30th.

  2. Nice post! I pass the 2030 El Cajon Blvd building often and have been wondering why it had been vacant in such a hot area. I will however claim this as being in my neighborhood, the oft-mislabeled University Heights 🙂

  3. I find it comical most of the people complaining about the Baypark height limit are screaming about the “view”. What view?!? I lived in Baypark for several years and unless you are lucky enough / rich enough to have a house up in the hills (where the 60 ft limit proposal will not impact you), your view is one of the following:

    – I-5,
    – Hedgerows blocking I-5 as a quasi-sound barrier
    – Train tracks with hedgerows / trees behind them

    …..Good grief. I think there are some legitimate concerns about traffic and parking if they proceed though and I think that argument could carry the day if this goes to serious discussion. The City Council is utterly spineless, so I doubt this will proceed unfortunately.

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