Editorial: Vision for Chula Vista/Gateway Changing?
“ED 6.5 Attract upscale restaurants in strategic locations of the City, in-cluding the regional serving visitor and commercial centers.”
This statement is a part of the Economic Development (ED) for the city of Chula Vista and a part of the “Vision Statement 2020” developed over several years and after 100s of hours of community meetings, staff development, and committee meetings and adopted in 2005. Fast forward a mere four years to 2009 and this key component, apparently, no longer applies.
The Vision for downtown Chula Vista, the area of 3rd Ave and Broadway, between H and E Street, by many is to create a cosmopolitan area that attracts East Chula Vista residents, visitors from around the county and Tijuana, and as a tourist destination, with the key component being the inclusion of fine restaurants and entertainment. The Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego was often invoked when describing the future for downtown Chula Vista.
The vision for Chula Vista was enhanced with the proposal and development of the Gateway complex, a cluster of three office buildings and parking structures which included the requirement of an upscale restaurant and entertainment center such as a nightclub, as a major part of the deal. The city council back in 2000 bought into the plan to the point that they agreed to a unique deal paying the developer of the project a total of $7.3 million dollars to see this project come to fruition.
Now, with two of the three buildings completed, MountainWest development with Jim Pieri at the helm, wants to change the vision for Chula Vista and the Gateway project by removing the requirement for an upscale restaurant and instead provide space for a technical college or a community college and they want to receive the remaining balance, $1.8 million, of the $7.3 million promised to them.
Not only will this change the vision for Chula Vista but will add traffic to the area. To determine the traffic impact the lowest denominator was used, an increase of 0.21 if a community college rents space, when, if a technical school moves in will increase the traffic by 0.83 percent was ignored.
The City Manager has recommended adopting the change and the Planning Commission approved the changes at their July 22nd meeting, voting 6-0 for the changes, and the Redevelopment Commission appears poised to go along with the changes. (The Redevelopment Commission meets Thursday evening after our deadline.)
Because of the present day economic situation, finding a restaurant to fill the space has become increasingly difficult. The opportunity to fill the space in a more timely fashion is possible if the development company is released from its obligation. A possibility could be Southwestern College which passed a bond last year with the express intention of opening a satellite office in downtown Chula Vista.
The final decision on the change will rest with the city council. After years of planning and creating a vision for the downtown corridor a change in mid-stream would deal a blow to the vision and the redevelopment of the area.