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Stories by David Batterson

North Park stroll

Business changes along University Avenue

Tobacco Rhoda’s dive bar closed down in June 2016. The bar had reportedly been a problem in the neighborhood for years. Artist Sam Ballard, who had a studio behind the bar for eight years, described ...

El Cajon Blvd. revamp ramps up

Business relocations and apartment projects

A couple of years ago the rundown section of El Cajon Boulevard in University Heights began a slow journey to rejuvenation. Construction crews have recently picked up the pace. The largest residential project in the ...

Demolition of historic Little Italy house likely

“Yes, sigh; anything ‘affordable’ you can waive almost anything.”

Architect/developer Jonathan Segal has applied to Civic San Diego to construct a 36-unit, 87-foot-tall, eight-story, all-studio apartment complex at a presumed historic site, at 320 W. Cedar Street in Little Italy. It would also include ...

Lil B's closes

El Cajon Boulevard restaurant had replaced long-running Johnny's R

Lil B’s Urban Eatery at 2611 El Cajon Boulevard in North Park has closed down. All the windows are covered. Their listed phone number doesn’t answer. More than a week ago when I ate there, ...

Wang’s North Park restaurant space in escrow

Failed eatery had been "everything the community was looking for"

In 2011, restaurateurs Joel Herzer and Tom Eads got approval from the San Diego City Council to loan them $500,000 in redevelopment funds to assist with costs of opening Wang’s North Park restaurant. Housed in ...

Groundbreaking for apartments to house LGBT seniors

Completion targeted for December 2017

A large crowd gathered at the northwest corner of Texas Street and Howard Avenue on July 13 for a groundbreaking ceremony marking construction of affordable apartments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors. The housing ...

Move over, Bridgepoint, big dog's movin' in

Union-Tribune signage going bigger downtown

While Bridgepoint Education, Inc., still has its name at the top of the building at 600 B Street, that sign is coming down soon. A Bridgepoint spokesperson did not respond to questions, but a source ...

Opposition remains for La Jolla Jewish center plan

The ball's been rolling for nearly 14 years

A 2002 Reader article detailed Hillel of San Diego's attempt to build a new facility adjacent to UCSD. In 2011, the Reader revisited the issue. Almost five years later, the project still has not advanced ...

North Park Woolworth's re-do on hold

Meantime, same developer constructs 35 apartments off alley

While the long-delayed renovation of the historic F.W. Woolworth Co. building at 3067–3075 University Avenue still has no start date, the developer is constructing apartments behind that building. Built in 1949, the Streamline Moderne structure ...

Hillcrest Wienerschnitzel kaput

New coffee spot for the old A-frame?

The Wienerschnitzel outlet at 101 W. Washington Street has vacated its yellow A-frame home. The tiny 385-square-foot building is boarded up, tagged with graffiti, and has no “for lease” or “for sale” signs on the ...

Mission Hills/Hillcrest Library project may start this year

A look at the “snail’s pace” timeline

Although the City of San Diego bought the site for the new Mission Hills/Hillcrest branch library in 2003 for $2.1 million and funding was finally completed in May 2014, construction is not yet ready to ...

Palomar Card Club license revoked

Chips redeemable — send to Colorado address

Last December 9, federal agents led by the FBI raided the Palomar Card Club (also known as Palomar Casino) at 2724 El Cajon Boulevard, alleging illegal operations, bookmaking, and money laundering. The Reader previously reported ...

Time's about up for California Theatre

“There is significant downtown interest and support for demolishing this blighted site."

The crumbling and leaky California Theatre building, at 1122 Fourth Avenue (at C St.), built in 1927 at a cost of $340,000, has sat vacant since 1990. SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organisation) is fighting to ...

City bucks for “twinkle lights”

Council also approves funding for I-805 holiday bridge-lights project

North Park residents will soon get a lot of twinkle in their eyes, thanks to $5200 in “community programs and services” funding from the city. The San Diego City Council on March 15 passed (as ...

Little Italy (n) - area of luxury high-rise apartments

California International Business University must move

The downtown construction pace continues unabated, and Little Italy is a good part of that development. Approved last May by Civic San Diego, the “520 W Ash” apartment project is moving ahead. While this will ...

State Controller to Douglas Manchester:

We have your $67

Every year the office of California State Controller Betty T. Yee accumulates more millions of dollars that belong to individuals and companies throughout California. These amounts range from as low as 1¢ to five figures. ...

Former diner to become beauty mall

The Hive to take the place of Harvey Milk's on University Avenue

When Harvey Milk's American Diner closed in October 2014, the space attracted interest from other restaurateurs, including Phil Pace (of Phil's BBQ fame), but nothing panned out. The building's interior has been gutted to its ...

Party's over, go to sleep

Former site of consecutive nightclub failures to become mattress store

The long-empty space that housed three former nightclubs in Hillcrest will open as a Sleep Train mattress store in April. This was confirmed December 31 by Jennifer Ritchie, with Sleep Train's PR firm, Revolution Public ...

"Stunning" fast-food experience promised

El Cajon Boulevard developments include Starbucks and Wendy's facelift

The long-closed Coco's restaurant at 2644 El Cajon Boulevard in University Heights is finally scheduled for demolition. The site will become a Starbucks coffee shop. Realtor Mike Clark with Cushman & Wakefield said they “had ...

Check 'n Go checks out of North Park

A “positive development” says community activist

The Check 'n Go store at 2509 El Cajon Boulevard in North Park has closed down. Activist Omar Passons, former president of North Park Community Association, welcomed the exit, saying, “I think it is a ...

From thrift to spiff in Hillcrest

Apartments to take place of Thrift Trader building

The building in Hillcrest that previously housed Legends Furniture store, then a Revivals thrift shop, and currently a Thrift Trader, will be razed. No demolition date has been set. Property owner FoundationForForm, a San Diego ...

Longtime sex-toy shop shuts down in Hillcrest

The Crypt is sealed

The Crypt, a sex toy/fetish shop at 3847 Park Boulevard, has shut its doors. Today an eviction notice was seen on the front door of the establishment. The “pay rent or surrender possession” document indicates ...

Will CivicSD approve Trump-like sign for old Sempra HQ?

Manchester Financial Group seeks vanity sign

Manchester Financial Group now owns 49 percent of the downtown building that formerly housed Sempra Energy, at 101 Ash Street. It bought the minority share in the property for $20 million, reported the San Diego ...

Supermarket slump?

North Park Haggen store affected by layoffs

The staffing cutbacks announced July 14 for Haggen supermarkets throughout Southern California have included San Diego. A conversation July 15 with two North Park Haggen employees (who had to remain anonymous) revealed that the store ...

Pernicano's out

Hotel likely to fill space now occupied by longtime-closed restaurants

If all goes according to plan, a new hotel will eventually rise on the Hillcrest property where once stood Pernicano's and Casa di Baffi restaurants. The property fronts on both Fifth and Sixth avenues in ...

Destruction continues before the groundbreaking

Former AT&T bldg, site of future housing, also target of arson and graffiti

A July 5 fire at the long-vacant former AT&T building at 4220 Arizona Street (off the intersection of Texas Street and Howard Avenue) caused minor damage to the structure, which was already scheduled for demolition. ...

Storytime on Broadway

Plans for towers 21- and 41-stories tall on blighted downtown block

Under review before Civic San Diego is a proposal to build two mixed-use towers downtown — one 21 stories and one 41 — on a blighted block along Broadway. The project, temporarily called “Broadway Block,” ...

Atmosphere project no longer up in the air

Apartment house will provide 205 affordable residences

On March 25, 2010, the Reader published a story titled “What's Up with the Big Cortez Hole?” The hyped Atmosphere condo development had fizzled and left a giant construction hole between Fourth and Fifth avenues ...

Who’s minding San Diego’s council districts?

Abandoned apartment building gets slow response from city bureaucrats

A long-vacant apartment building at 3926/3926 ½ Mississippi Street in North Park remains in violation of San Diego Ordinance O-20203 (“abatement of abandoned properties”), passed in October 2012. A building is deemed an abandoned property ...

They said, he said

Nonprofit Desert AIDS Project thrift shop in Hillcrest shuttering

Revivals, the nonprofit thrift store at 1644 University Avenue in Hillcrest, will close down on February 28. It will not be relocating. Opened February 7, 2011, by Desert AIDS Project (D.A.P.) in Palm Springs, Revivals ...

Poor Radio Shack

Corp. files Chapter 11, issues list of planned closures

The RadioShack Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will result in store closings across the U.S. The company has posted a “potential store closure list” that includes nine stores in San Diego and the surrounding metro area. ...

Bring in the big cats

Chinese Historical Museum to install guardian lion statues on sidewalk

Civic San Diego is expected to approve the installation of two guardian lion statues at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum downtown. The statues, about ten feet tall including pedestals, will stand on the sidewalks ...

Blame the geeks

Software not ready for Rapid 215

While the limited-stop Rapid 215 bus route has been operating since October 12 (it was scheduled to begin service August 31), it's a different story with the electronic sign technology called Variable-Message Signs. There are ...

North Park vibe spreads north

Is the University Heights “dead zone” along El Cajon Boulevard resurrecting?

While the renovated Lafayette Hotel on El Cajon Boulevard in University Heights has raised the bar, commercial properties nearby haven’t been so successful. Going west on El Cajon Boulevard from Louisiana Street to Florida Street, ...

Great spot for another bare-beamed brewhouse?

Longtime North Park business pulls the plug

A longtime popular discount fashion, toiletries, toys, and gifts store at 3002 University Avenue is now in liquidation. Discount International Fashions is selling all its merchandise and must vacate the premises by the end of ...

Future still iffy for Harvey Milk's American Diner

Milk Foundation attorney says they are “disappointed and disturbed”

While a previous written statement on the front door of Harvey Milk's American Diner indicated it was closed for reorganization, that's not likely to happen. One of the Hillcrest restaurant's three partners, Frank Lechner, refused ...

What the F?

No info on what's to replace former F Street sex shop in North Park

F Street Adult Video & Gifts at 2002/2004 University Avenue in North Park has been closed since last year, when it went on sale. The building is now undergoing major interior renovation, with trucks and ...

Space for a Shack in Hillcrest?

Troubled electronics store chain plans closings

RadioShack Corporation's September 11 announcement of second-quarter financial results strongly suggested that store closings are coming. Joseph C. Magnacca, chief executive officer, said the company “may need additional capital.” Magnacca also announced possible “debt restructuring” ...

King is gone and forgotten

Sonic Drive-In moving in to North Park: #6 of 15 planned for county

North Park's Burger King at 2829 El Cajon Boulevard closed down late last year. The building now has a new tenant: a Sonic Drive-in. San Diego County now has six Sonic locations: Camp Pendleton, Vista, ...

Whew! Heritage Organisation says it’s okay

Historic Hillcrest hospital to become Japanese restaurant

The former Kelly's Treasures antiques and collectibles store at 801 University Avenue in Hillcrest is closed, and a sign says it's under renovation by AK Pro Construction Co. of Torrance. It will become a Japanese ...

Here comes the neighborhood

Residential loft project to occupy long-vacant lot in North Park

A residential loft project is planned for North Park, just east of Albertsons on University Avenue at Louisiana Street. The long-empty lot was originally listed last August at $895,000. Purchaser of the property was Morley, ...

Shadow Mountain church sets up in Hillcrest

Here comes the light to "what would be a dark, dark neighborhood"

The evangelical Shadow Mountain Community Church of El Cajon now occupies the Grace Campus at 3844 Georgia Street in Hillcrest, the former site of Grace Baptist Church. Pastor David Jeremiah's views are similar to the ...

Big donations help fund Mission Hills/Hillcrest library

To replace Mission Hills Branch Library, built in 1961

The San Diego City Council on May 20 unanimously accepted $10 million from two donors ($5 million each) to complete funding for the long-overdue Mission Hills/Hillcrest Branch Library. The San Diego Public Library Foundation had ...

Outta here: Homes become houses on wheels

Academy of Our Lady of Peace rids itself of two structures

The City of San Diego has removed two single-family homes from Academy of Our Lady of Peace–owned property, per a previous consent decree. The removal had been ordered to occur by May 1, 2014. The ...

Where low-income LGBT seniors can live

North Park apartment project may begin next year, maybe not

When LGBT, low-income seniors in San Diego seek affordable apartments where they can live comfortably around their peers, they have this number of choices: zero. But that will change when the first affordable San Diego ...

Three years until Hillcrest fire station is replaced

In 2013, personnel responded to over 4500 calls

San Diego Fire Station 5 at University and Ninth avenues, is small, has asbestos, and is understaffed, but it still shoulders a full load. Placed into service in 1951, the Hillcrest station serves an area ...

Major upgrade for Hillcrest crosswalk

Dangerous intersection to be made safer for pedestrians in July

A crosswalk in Hillcrest is getting upgraded after reports of serious accidents and complaints from residents. The crosswalk with no traffic light is at the southeast corner of Park Boulevard and Cypress Avenue, near the ...

No pigeons, rats, broken windows

City posts Abatement Notice at 815 University Avenue

A longtime antique and collectibles store at 815 University Avenue in Hillcrest closed down sometime back. The code enforcement section of the City of San Diego posted a Notice of Abatement (Vacant and Unsecured Structure) ...

University Heights school building followup

San Diego Unified provides notes from closed-session meeting

A recent Reader article dealt with a long-stalled-plan to renovate the historic Teachers Training Annex #1 at 4100 Normal Street, turning it into a public library. The empty and deteriorating building is owned by the ...

Hotel downsizes for financial reasons

Reduced by nine stories, but still 183 feet tall

A developer has scaled down a hotel project at 401 W. Ash Street, previously approved last September by Civic San Diego. The reason for the downsizing was due to the developer's difficulty in obtaining financing ...

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