A parking garage and more condos for downtown Escondido

The San Diego Union Tribune

July 3, 2017, 2:00 PM

Downtown Escondido could get a long-awaited parking garage and more than 200 condominiums under plans submitted recently to City Hall.

City officials say together the projects will boost the ongoing transformation of the area into a vibrant neighborhood where people live, shop and work.

The four-story garage would be a public parking structure built on an existing lot at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Kalmia. It would also be near a residential building planned for land that now holds another parking lot along West Valley Parkway just east of Maple Street, across from the City Hall and the California Center for the Arts.

That condominium complex would be six-stories high and consist of 106 residential units with retail space on the ground floor across the street from Maple Plaza.

All the the proposals were submitted on June 23 by San Diego developer Touchstone Communities after numerous pre-development discussions with the City Council and staff.

Mayor Sam Abed said he expects the project to come before the council soon and, because much of the groundwork has been done, he thinks it will be approved.

“These are outstanding projects and they are going to take downtown Escondido to the next level,” Abed said.

“We were looking for a way to deal with the downtown parking situation once and for all,” Epp said, “and we’re always excited to see more residential development giving life to our downtown.”

He said a city parking lot often referred to as the Maple Street lot has been underutilized for years. The building that will replace it will include underground parking for residents and retail customers.

“They’re still putting some fine touches on the business deal and it still has to go through the whole planning and land use process, but I think we’re at a point now where the project will get some serious consideration,” Epp said.

Abed was more direct: “It’s an exciting time … I believe we are going to be moving forward with the project.”

Other major changes to the downtown building landscape are also on the near horizon. The old police headquarters building will soon be razed to make way for a 126-unit condominium project and the long-abandoned H. Johnson furniture building at Second Avenue between Maple and Broadway will soon be converted into a sound stage, auditorium and library by John Paul the Great Catholic University.

Still unresolved is what will happen to the old Palomar Hospital property on the east side of downtown. The health district has been trying to sell the property for a couple years, but demolition costs have soured at least one promising deal.

Copyright © 2017, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Original article published at http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-escondido-touchstone-20170630-story.html

By J. Harry Jones

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