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Posted April 24, 2008

Dear Neighbors,

For several months core members of the Heart of Kensington Organizing Committee have been working diligently to ensure that the Kensington Terrace project complies with California law and preserves the character of our neighborhood. We understand that any development must meet economic realities, and we are committed to a balanced approach that would allow for profitable development while at the same time protecting the essential nature of Kensington.

The Heart of Kensington sought meaningful changes to the project's original conception and design that addressed a number of significant community concerns including traffic, scale/density, retail usage, and historic/community character.

Today we are happy to announce that an agreement has been reached between the Heart of Kensington and Terrace Partners that is the result of sometimes difficult negotiations between the two parties. As a result of this legally binding agreement, Terrace Partners can now begin redeveloping this block of Adams Avenue to the benefit of the entire community.

Please join us tomorrow, Friday, at 11 am in front of the library for the announcement of the settlement to the media. Bring friends and neighbors and celebrate with us and the wider San Diego community!


The foremost concern expressed by residents of Kensington was in regard to the scale and height of the proposed building. Under the agreement, the new building has been significantly scaled back and no longer requires a zoning variance or deviation in the CN-1-3 (30 foot) zone. The three rowhomes on Edgeware Road will stand separately from the main commercial building, providing a much smaller impact in bulk. The retail space on the corner of Edgeware Road and Adams Avenue will only be single story, to better match the single story directly across the street (the Autism Institute). The remaining retail/office space in the CN-1-3 zone will be two-story only. The only three-story component will be in the CU-3-3 zone and consists of a 5,000 square foot third floor located approximately where the gas station and pumps are situated, yet significantly stepped back on all sides so that the shadowing on the residential properties to the north has been reduced or eliminated. The building at its highest point will be 35 feet, which is the same height as the Starbucks building.

The portal on the south façade on Adams Avenue has been significantly enlarged, both in width and height, and is open all the way through the roof. A plaza will now be located at this entrance where previously there was none. The building exhibits varying heights and, with the portal, good articulation. The overall building square footage has been reduced from 56,000 square feet to 49,000 square feet.

The community also was concerned about the increase in traffic brought by the proposed uses of the building. HoK has negotiated a number of terms that will reduce traffic levels. These restrictions relate to allowed uses, retail store size and caps on projected traffic, measured by "Average Daily Trips" or "ADTs." First, no high-turnover convenience stores will be allowed. You may recall that City Councilmember Toni Atkins attempted to add this as a condition of the permit during the City Council hearing, but the developer indicated it was opposed, and she dropped it. HoK put this limitation back in. This is a big win, as convenience stores are major traffic generators.

We have also negotiated terms relating to maximum size of individual retail space and percent of national brand or formula businesses allowed, to encourage the recruitment of neighborhood-serving mom-and-pop businesses rather than traffic-generating chain stores and fast food establishments such as Burger King and Target. We have also reduced the allowed project ADTs by 20%, subject to the Mitigation, Monitoring and Reporting program conducted by the City.

With regard to parking, Terrace Partners¹ new design should provide seven free parking spaces behind the building adjacent to the alley. The inclusion of these spaces not only mitigates the loss of the on-street parking resulting from the widening and red-striping of Marlborough Drive, but causes the building to be stepped-back further from the alley and away from the adjacent residences.


With any negotiation comes compromise. In order to reduce construction costs, Terrace Partners's new design for the main building includes only retail and office space. The first floor is retail and the second floor is office, as before. The third floor, which previously had been 15,000 square feet of residential, is now 5,000 square feet of office space. Overall, there has been a decrease in residential space and an increase in retail/office space. By choosing to eliminate the inner courtyard, the architect and developer created more leasable space. All of the other terms that we negotiated regarding retail space size, use and ADT caps are intended to offset the traffic impact of the overall retail/office space.

The new design has one underground floor of parking. The number of parking spaces provided will meet city code requirements. The previous design provided an excess number of parking spaces, but as it was underground validated parking, the community never saw this as much value added, so the removal of a half-floor of parking in exchange for free parking spaces off the alley is a win. By eliminating a half-floor of underground parking, the developers have reduced their construction costs, which allowed them to make the other concessions.

During the City Council hearing Toni Atkins asked the developers to allow sixty days for someone to come forward to claim the 1923 Roy and Dora Bennett house (just east of the gas station). The developers were to give the house to anyone for free who wanted to move it to another location. It has been well over 60 days and no one has come forward, which is not surprising, since there is very little vacant land available in the urban core of the city. While there is some possibility that after litigation and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) the city might have directed the developers to incorporate the house into the design, or move it at their expense to a parcel of land that they own, those outcomes are highly unlikely, given the city administration¹s current policy toward historical designation and the Mills Act, for example. Nevertheless, during demolition of the house, materials will be salvaged and given to Habitat for Humanity.

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