By Miriam Raftery
July 16, 2015 (El Cajon ) – El Cajon’s City Council voted Tuesday to move forward on plans to build a Hampton Inn with upscale restaurants on the site of the former police station on Fletcher Parkway near North Magnolia Avenue. The action comes after last month’s approval to bring a Marriott Hotel to town.
“Revitalization of El Cajon has a snowball effect,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine. Since approval of the Marriott deal, he says, “our phone has been ringing off the hook from investors because they know that Marriott does their homework.”
Both of the hotels slated to be built are expected to be four-star rated, says Kendrick who served on a subcommittee along with Councilman Tony Ambrose to talk with the top five respondents in the city’s request for proposals for the site.
“Some people wanted to put in just fast food or a pharmacy, but we didn’t want that; we have plenty of those. We wanted something special,” Kendrick says. Instead, he hopes to see upscale restaurants that are not part of a chain, such as one created by Cohn Restaurants, the San Diego company noted for its many successful start-ups of unique eateries.
Hampton Inn is a family-oriented hotel run by the Hilton. The location is ideal since its near two freeways and has “huge” traffic from Parkway Plaza, plus it is close to the Gillespie Field airport, Kendrick notes.
He said Hampton wants to complete the project “as soon as possible.” The former police station property will be sold for $4 million, he added.
El Cajon recently celebrated its centennial and has been moving forward on numerous revitalization projects including plans to reopen the East County Performing Arts Center downtown; bids for upgrades and repairs have recently gone out. The city also touts successes in sharply reducing alcohol-related crime.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Council heard a request from Fountain Liquor after the company was found to have made an illegal conversion of apartments to a liquor store without permits, that also violates zoning and parking regulations and is larger than current zoning allows for liquor stores. Fountain’s attorney proposed a compromise on size and agreed that the store would not sell fortified wine, hip flasks or airline-sized miniature liquor bottles often abused by serial inebriates and teens. Council postponed action on the item for two weeks to allow staff to review the proposal.