Future site of new library, 209-215 W. Washington Street
  • Future site of new library, 209-215 W. Washington Street
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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 begin.

Councilmember Todd Gloria's spokesman Adrian Granda said April 26 that “an open bid for contractors was conducted in February, and the award process is ongoing. Once a contractor is selected, the facility will have to be designed and we expect construction to begin in June of next year.”

However, city public information officer Nicole Darling clarified the status of the long-awaited new library branch. It narrowed down to a “short list of qualified design-build firms that would compete to complete the library design, using community input already received, and then construct the library. Three bids were submitted by the close date of March 3, 2016,” said Darling's statement.

The stated project cost was $20,250,500 in 2014. The cost as of April 2016 is now reportedly $17,848,000. It's not known if costs will rise due to inflation.

Darling said the project is “on schedule. The project is currently in the Bid & Award Phase, with the design-build contract work anticipated to start in September this year (2016). Construction completion is anticipated in July 2019.”

Leo Wilson, chair of Uptown Planners, said he is “not surprised by the delay. I actually would have been surprised if there was not a delay. All city projects seem to move at a snail's pace; there is always a bureaucratic bottleneck of some sort.”

In the official minutes of the July 2014 Uptown Planners meeting, councilmember Todd Gloria's staffer Anthony Bernal indicated that “it was considered important to move the project forward in an expedited manner.” Wilson confirmed that his “impression from the meeting was that the project would move forward quickly at the request of the private donor.”

Architectural rendering

Architectural rendering

The new library will be a one-story, 14,500-square-foot structure over a 37,800-square-foot, two-story underground garage. The architecture is Craftsman-inspired, and will be LEED-certified. The site — the former union hall of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — at 209-215 W. Washington Street, is bounded by Front Street on the east, an alley on the west, and Florence Elementary School on the south.

The building will replace the small Mission Hills Branch Library (built in 1961) at 925 W. Washington Street. Janet Zweig, LLC, was awarded a $280,000 contract to design, fabricate, and install public art in the new branch.

“The design [by Architects Mosher Drew] is currently at 30 percent complete, based on community input,” Darling said.

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Comments

Javajoe25 April 29, 2016 @ 12:42 p.m.

When I first saw this headline I thought it was a Walter Mencken article. Am I actually going top see this new library in my lifetime? I thought sure this project had been put on the back burner of the back of the truck at the back of the backed up traffic in Mission Valley during a rush hour when an accident has occurred. In other words, faggetaboudit! I was sure this new branch would not be built before..say, all the ice in the polar ice caps has melted. Only time will tell. Seems too good to be true.

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dwbat April 29, 2016 @ 1:20 p.m.

Well, that's why I decided to do the update, to discover when it might be done!

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SanCarlosGuy2001 April 29, 2016 @ 1:49 p.m.

Another excellent Reader article that will now probably be mixed up by the bigger media outlets. "Bureaucratic bottleneck" is putting it mildly. It's amazing that the city is supposedly so bogged down that important civic projects like a new library are on the way-way-way back burner while stadiums and other luxury projects move ahead on the list of priorities.

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dwbat April 30, 2016 @ 8:45 a.m.

If this were Portland, OR, the library branch would have been built five years ago. Sometime back when that city's main library badly needed renovation and upgrading, the citizens voted overwhelmingly to spend the money. The work was fast-tracked with commitment and professionalism, and backed by all local leaders. The subsequent grand opening was a major event.

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GaryAllmon April 29, 2016 @ 3:34 p.m.

Good coverage David. However, you left out a distinct problem area that will inevitably delay the start of this venture. The iconic mural of an American flag and the rust stain running down the left side of the current building are highly deserving of preservation. In addition the sawtooth roof is an excellent example of the mid-century modern architecture emblematic of the growth of the mission hills and hillcrest neighborhoods. I am in the process of preparing briefs for both of those neighborhood associations and the San Diego Save Our Heritage Association to enable the appropriate city council protests and lawsuits. I wouldn't expect this project to get off the ground for another ten years at the least.

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dwbat April 29, 2016 @ 3:55 p.m.

None

Uh oh, here comes trouble. ;-) Do you live in a house like this?

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rehftmann April 29, 2016 @ 7:22 p.m.

You ain't even kiddin', GaryAllmon. Of course, hiring the protection mob for their expertise would grease the way. If you can't beat 'em, pay 'em. Unless progress is in fact impossible and everything old should be eternal, in which case, let the righteous prevail! Onward to where we are.

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dwbat April 29, 2016 @ 7:26 p.m.

I can't tell if you're agreeing or disagreeing with Allmon's comments. Not that it matters.

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Kadema June 6, 2016 @ 1:07 a.m.

If you're advocating for preserving the IBEW building, then I'm with you. Demolishing iconic structures is a waste of a lot of money; in fact demolishing most buildings are a waste of materials and money. It's more sustainable to repurpose a building, than it is to tear it down. On another note, I would fight like hell if Mosher-Drew really intends to build that ugly senior-home looking library. That concept/render was borderline thoughtless and they know it. I'm all for libraries, especially since the hillcrest/mission hills community are more deserving of a better one, but Mosher-Drew's example isn't good enough to tear down William Rosser's iconic IBEW folded-plate roof building.

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dwbat June 6, 2016 @ 8:03 a.m.

That's your opinion, but you appear to be in the minority. The design went through a long process, where public input was invited. Did you contact Mosher-Drew with your specific recommendations for improvement? If not, you have nothing to complain about.

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dwbat May 5, 2016 @ 1:12 p.m.

To Joaquin Blanco on Facebook: This doesn't surprise me at all, since vacant properties draw trouble, like moths to a flame. It happened for years at the former old AT&T building at Texas and Howard (finally set for demolition soon). The last time it was set on fire by transients. Other vacant properties in the city have been vandalized, tagged, and become druggie and/or homeless spots. It's ultimately the responsibility of the property owners--not SDPD--to deal with this ongoing problem.

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dwbat June 6, 2016 @ 10:35 a.m.

To Laurie Black on Facebook: You wrote: "But it means getting our elected officials to talk to one another and put their egos in the closet." haha, good one. When is THAT ever going to happen?

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dwbat May 31, 2017 @ 1:39 p.m.

5/31/17 update: The old ugly building is history, and now there's a big hole in the ground.

None

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