City to hold public scoping meeting Wed. Dec. 9 on proposed 18-story project
By Kristin Hobbs-Kjaero
December 3, 2009 (La Mesa)—Should the City of La Mesa waive height restrictions and grant a density increase to allow a mixed-use hotel, retail, office and residential project soaring up to 18 stories high?
The City has received an application to develop 6 ½ acres in the Village with an average density of 76 units/acre, ranging from four to eighteen floors high.
For comparison, the Pravada at the Grossmont Trolley development is 66 units/acre. Grossmont Hospital is five floors above ground, the El Cajon jail is 10 floors, Mercy Hospital is 12 floors, and the Marriott Hotel Mission Valley is 17 floors.
An “informal open house and public scoping meeting” will be held Wednesday, December 9 at 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the La Mesa City Council Chambers (8130 Allison Avenue).
Park Station at the Crossroads of La Mesa would be encompassed by Spring Street, University Avenue, Baltimore Drive and Highway 8.
The application requests a change to the Village Specific Plan, asks the City to vacate a section of Nebo Drive and a small parcel with a pump house, and proposes a mixed-use development that includes 557 multi-family residential units, 500 hotel rooms, 70,000-205,000 square feet of office space, and 125,000 square feet of retail space.
The project’s developer hopes to boost the current zoning of 40 units/acre to 80 units/acre by qualifying for a transit oriented density bonus. However, this requires them to set aside a proportion of the site for open space.
In order to meet that requirement it has asked the City to vacate the street to the project owners, and offers in return to build and maintain a privately owned “linear park” with a children’s playground along the train tracks, which would be open to the public.
An Annual Property and Sales Tax Analysis prepared by project manager Urban Housing Partners, Inc. projects annual property tax revenues of $296,000 and annual sales tax revenues of $476,000 generated for the City.
A revised Public Outreach Plan was submitted July 17, 2008 which lists two community workshops, presentations to 22 local organizations, memberships in the La Mesa and East County Chambers or Commerce and the East County EDC, and sponsorship of local events including the La Mesa Back to the 50s Car Show, La Mesa Oktoberfest, Sundays at Six Concerts, and a Singing Hills Golf Tournament.
The co-applicants are South Baltimore LLC, owned by the Kitzman family of Ramona, and the American Legion Post 282. Last year the Kitzman family (WDS, LLC) paid the City approx. $4,000,000 for 2.5 acres of land on the corner of Baltimore Drive and El Cajon Blvd.
Bill Chopyk, Director of Planning and Development Services for the City said they sent out meeting notices to a little over 50 addresses within 300 feet of the project, a notice was placed on the City’s website and published in the La Mesa Forum.
The meeting notice states: "Potential Environmental Effects: It is anticipated that the proposed project would result in impacts to the following resource areas: aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology/soils, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology/water quality, land use/planning, noise, population/housing, public services, recreation, transportation/traffic, and utilities/service systems."
Update 12/17/09: The City has added an e-mail sign-up to receive notifications from this project, which can be accessed from the "Notify Me" link in the left column of the City's home page.