Turning an old service station into a mixed-use urban development is the latest Golden Hill project for FoundationForForm, the architects behind mxd830 on 25th Street, home to bar/restaurant Counterpoint and Mosaic Yoga, as well as the architects’ studio. According to FoundationForForm’s website, the development won the San Diego/Tijuana Urban Land Institute’s Mixed-Use Award in 2011.
FFF’s new project is taking shape across the street, on the northeast corner of 25th and F, adjacent to the westbound 94 off-ramp. “You Are Here,” as the project is named, will incorporate the service bays from the auto shop, which was previously a Texaco station dating back to 1965 and had most recently been doing business as Autoservicio Gutierrez, one of three auto-repair establishments along 25th between the 94 and B Street.
Originally, the land was bought by Golden Hill Community Development Corporation, which had planned a public nonprofit venture incorporating low-income housing. The funds did not come through, however, and the land was put up for auction.
FoundationForForm architect Mike Burnett bought the property and has developed it in a way that, according to longtime Golden Hill business owner and resident Mike Kravcar, is close to the vision the community had for the parcel (though he did speak of a “public component” at the top, such as a restaurant or café, “for people to enjoy the fantastic view,” which Burnett confirms is no longer part of the plan). The ground floor of the new building will house commercial spaces, with 22 residential units on the upper floors.
With the influx of development in Golden Hill, neighborhood residents, including Kravcar, worry services could experience a strain. While developers hope to promote what architect Burnett refers to as the “walkability” of Golden Hill, a small supermarket, a produce stand, and a few convenience stores — though friendly and local — supply only limited groceries, and there is no bank, no drugstore, and no hardware store.
As Kravcar tells it, when owners of Jaycee’s, a local supermarket, were invited to participate in talks about how to improve 25th Street, they were hesitant to get involved in planning efforts. Though Kravcar says they did respond to requests to improve the odor in the store, the smell has returned. For potential new customers moving into the neighborhood, this could be a discouragement from shopping locally.
Furthermore, with 25th Street a popular destination for its restaurants, bars, and cafés, parking is hard to come by, and although You Are Here will have some parking, additional inhabitants and patrons might have trouble finding spots.
The 25th Street corridor also recently lost what Kravcar refers to as a “sizeable SANDAG grant,” so although some projects are taking place independently, Golden Hill lacks an overall plan for future improvements to the neighborhood in response to the expanding population.
You Are Here is anticipated to be complete by early 2013.