By Skye Ryder
Image: Artist's rendering of a reimagined Chase Bank in La Mesa, topped by a Sky tram station.
April 1, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Sky rides at the San Diego Zoo and Sea World are among the most popular attractions for visitors. Now an aerial gondola adventure is coming to East County.
The idea is a joint proposal by East County’s newly elected Supervisor Joel Anderson and La Mesa City Councilman Colin Parent, also a spokesman for Circulate San Diego, which promotes advancing mobility choices for communities across our region.
Back in 2017, then-County Supervisor Ron Roberts suggested expanding the ride to downtown San Diego. Roberts said, “I was looking at the zoo ride, and I was thinking, ‘You know what, if we just kept going across the freeway to Sixth Avenue and went downtown.’ That would be fun.”
The current board of Supervisors is now embracing that concept – and carrying it a step further. (Read more)
In a joint press conference held today on the vacant lot in La Mesa’s historic downtown district where Chase Bank burned down during the May 2020 riot, local leaders detailed their vision to add a sky tram station to the top of a rebuilt Chase Bank, along with other new amenities.
“Each year, 75 cruise ships dock in San Diego,” Supervisor Anderson said. “With an average of 3,000 passengers on each ship, that’s a quarter of a million people visiting San Diego on cruise ships alone. Let’s extend the new skyline to East County, so that tourists can discover the attractions here and bring economic prosperity to businesses in my district.”
Councilman Parent stated, “The new aerial gondola will also be used by commuters from East County going to and from work every day, which will ease congestion on our highways. A stop will also be added at San Diego State University for students to access. Sky riders can enjoy panoramic vistas during their commute, or get an early start to their day with virtual sky-high meetings. Think of it as `Zoom with a view.’”
Chase Bank executive Rich Mann announced, “Chase Bank is pleased to unveil our plans to rebuild bigger and better. In addition to a sky tram atop our building, with Chase Bank on the ground floor, the new structure will also include underground parking, a two-story indoor farmer’s market similar to Pike’s Place in Seattle, and an outdoor dining pavilion for local restaurants to use year-round, expanding the outdoor dining concept popularized during the pandemic.”
Mayor Mark Arapostathis said, “The city has agreed to waive the height limit to add a fifth floor. The top two stories will be leased by the city for use as a new library and community center to serve all La Mesa residents. The ground floor will include a public restroom and a La Mesa Visitors Bureau."
Councilman Jack Shu chimed in, “The city's penthouse suite will also include an office overlooking the La Mesa Police station – giving our new citizens’ police oversight board a birds-eye view to literally provide full oversight of police activities in our community.”
Supervisor Anderson concluded, “I have the support of all five Supervisors for this ambitious bipartisan project. If our first sky tram expansion to La Mesa is a success, we hope to expand the new SkyEast line to El Cajon, Santee, and onward to our mountain and desert communities--as well as into my colleague's districts in North County, the South Bay and the international border. to promote binational tourism."
The press conference ended with a mariachi band performance to celebrate the new regional collaboration.
Happy April Fool’s Day!