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Will North Park Woolworth's ever be renovated?

2012 plan replaced by 2020 one

Storefront on Nov. 19
Storefront on Nov. 19

Renovations of historic buildings often move at a snail’s pace. An example is the former Woolworth’s store in North Park, standing vacant for many years. Located at 3067-3075 University Avenue, its last tenant was a nonprofit thrift store.

In 2020, North Park Gateway, LLC entered into a new disposition and development agreement with the City of San Diego. It set the financial terms of the renovation project. It stated a purchase price of $1.4 million, with about $231,000 allocated for the city. The rest will be divided up by local taxing agencies. The city will provide a $100,000 forgivable loan for public improvements.

From the North Park Historical Society

The original construction estimate was $2.4 million, but due to increased construction costs, it will be a much larger amount. North Park Gateway principals are listed as architect Bejan Arfaa and Lyda Cohen, agent for service.

San Diego’s historic designations require that a structure “embodies distinctive characteristics of a style, type, period or method of construction, or is a valuable example of the use of indigenous materials or craftsmanship.” In 2012, the local Historical Resources Board cited its Streamline Moderne architecture, and features including the flat roof and parapet, stucco exterior, and sash awning windows.

Original entryway

Aria Pounaki, a longtime North Park local and housing expert, emailed this comment: “I’m hopeful that the funding and entitlement for the project can move forward for the greater utility and enjoyment of North Park residents, since the structure as it exists now actively takes away from what is currently one of the most dynamic parts of the neighborhood.”

Asked for an update, city of San Diego development spokesperson Jerry McCormick told me,"We are working with the developer to keep the project on track and fulfill the obligations in the DDA. No additional updates at this time."

However, Amie Hayes, senior historic resources specialist with Save Our Heritage Organisation further explained the delays. Hayes said the initial plan “is from 2012 and was never completed, and has now expired.” Hayes added: “The current 2020 project appears to be going through a permitting process now, and historic staff has yet to sign off on this.”

The current city development application states: “Second floor to be 10 new residential units, residential units also on the first floor. Public Improvements under separate permit.” The architect has recently paid permit fees of $15,336.05 to the city.

Hayes clarified the historic designation process: “From the City staff we understand the reviewer on this project sent it back for revisions in order to be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, and the applicant has not yet resubmitted.”

Katherine Hon, secretary of North Park Historical Society, provided an image from the the society's book, Images of America: San Diego’s North Park.

The North Park Woolworth's was constructed in 1949 by Trepte Construction Co. The company built the San Diego Sports Arena, First National Bank building at 530 B St., the Old Globe Theatre rebuild in 1981, and a facility at North Island Naval Station.

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Storefront on Nov. 19
Storefront on Nov. 19

Renovations of historic buildings often move at a snail’s pace. An example is the former Woolworth’s store in North Park, standing vacant for many years. Located at 3067-3075 University Avenue, its last tenant was a nonprofit thrift store.

In 2020, North Park Gateway, LLC entered into a new disposition and development agreement with the City of San Diego. It set the financial terms of the renovation project. It stated a purchase price of $1.4 million, with about $231,000 allocated for the city. The rest will be divided up by local taxing agencies. The city will provide a $100,000 forgivable loan for public improvements.

From the North Park Historical Society

The original construction estimate was $2.4 million, but due to increased construction costs, it will be a much larger amount. North Park Gateway principals are listed as architect Bejan Arfaa and Lyda Cohen, agent for service.

San Diego’s historic designations require that a structure “embodies distinctive characteristics of a style, type, period or method of construction, or is a valuable example of the use of indigenous materials or craftsmanship.” In 2012, the local Historical Resources Board cited its Streamline Moderne architecture, and features including the flat roof and parapet, stucco exterior, and sash awning windows.

Original entryway

Aria Pounaki, a longtime North Park local and housing expert, emailed this comment: “I’m hopeful that the funding and entitlement for the project can move forward for the greater utility and enjoyment of North Park residents, since the structure as it exists now actively takes away from what is currently one of the most dynamic parts of the neighborhood.”

Asked for an update, city of San Diego development spokesperson Jerry McCormick told me,"We are working with the developer to keep the project on track and fulfill the obligations in the DDA. No additional updates at this time."

However, Amie Hayes, senior historic resources specialist with Save Our Heritage Organisation further explained the delays. Hayes said the initial plan “is from 2012 and was never completed, and has now expired.” Hayes added: “The current 2020 project appears to be going through a permitting process now, and historic staff has yet to sign off on this.”

The current city development application states: “Second floor to be 10 new residential units, residential units also on the first floor. Public Improvements under separate permit.” The architect has recently paid permit fees of $15,336.05 to the city.

Hayes clarified the historic designation process: “From the City staff we understand the reviewer on this project sent it back for revisions in order to be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, and the applicant has not yet resubmitted.”

Katherine Hon, secretary of North Park Historical Society, provided an image from the the society's book, Images of America: San Diego’s North Park.

The North Park Woolworth's was constructed in 1949 by Trepte Construction Co. The company built the San Diego Sports Arena, First National Bank building at 530 B St., the Old Globe Theatre rebuild in 1981, and a facility at North Island Naval Station.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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