A Scaled-Back Park Station Project Emerging

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LA MESA -- The long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Park Station project in downtown La Mesa has been released and shows a scaled-back but still substantial project could be approved for the 5.23 acre site.
The plan evaluates a mixed use project on the site that could have retail, office and residential space including a section that would rise 110 feet in the air, more than twice the current allowable height limit in the city of 46 feet.
That 110 feet is considerable lower than the 18 floor towers the land owner was originally discussing and that brought many of the challenging comments from local residents, however the height issue is still apt to remain a strong one as the project moves through the city's planning process.

The full report is more than 300 pages long, but contains an executive summary at the start. It is also clear that the limiting factor on the this project is its impact on traffic in the area. The traffic studies done as part of this study were particularly sensitive with the city requiring the study engineers to return on a number of occasions to recalculate current traffic flows.

In the end, this draft suggests the land could handle a project with a combination of up to
416-multi-family residential dwelling units, up to 61,000 square feet of commercial retail, up to 146,000 square feet of commercial office, and up to 146,000 square feet of hotel use (500 rooms).

Such a project would be among the largest developments in La Mesa since the Grossmont Center was built.

Early public hearings on this project ocurred over the last two years, but public reaction was cool when building heights of 18-stories were originally discussed. This draft EIR clearly describes a project that exceeds the city's current height limits, but the new height has been significantly reduced.

As originally proposed, the site location -- bordered by Baltimore, Spring, Nebo and University -- would concentrate four-story retail, office and residential buildings closest to the surrounding, more heavily trafficked streets. The high, 110-foot tower, which would require a zoning variance, would be located further off the streets looming above the lower retail, residential and office spaces.

The report also outlines an alternative use for the land that would include an "Office Mixed Use Alternative" that would eliminate the high-rise portion and keep the height limit at 46-feet.

This draft EIR will be circulated throughout the community for comment and could be amended over the next several months, but will eventually move, with the project proposal on to the city's Planning Commission and, eventually to the City Council, for consideration.

City Manager Dave Witt said Tuesday evening that the issue could make its way to the City Council in the next six to eight months, following hearings and a vote of the city's Planning Commission.

The project is significant for La Mesa in a number of ways. It would use land that currently is somewhat of an eyesore on one of the main entrances to the city from Interstate 8. It would clearly add land and tax revenues to the city as well. But its higher density and height proposals are clearly a challenge for many citizens who see La Mesa as a largely single-family home community.

Projects like Park Station, however, are finding support from regional planners who believe planned, higher density growth along public transportation lines is far preferable to more suburban sprawl into surrounding deserts in San Diego County. Park Station -- even its name -- highlights its location along the Green and Orange trolley lines and the project is crossed by numerous bus lines and in easy access to major highways. The current Park Station proposal includes one sheltered parking space per residential unit, a nod to the nearby public transportation.


The full draft EIR Report can be found by clicking here.

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Tags: Draft Enviromental Impact Report, Government, La Mesa Today, Park Station


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Comment by Aaron Seth on February 8, 2014 at 6:45pm

Join the fight to keep this to 4 stories...


Comment by Batman on February 2, 2014 at 10:35pm

Oh well, half a slum tower is better than none. An SDG&E peaker plant in the Industrial Center would still be unnoticeable next to this thing.

Comment by Andrew Jackson on February 2, 2014 at 3:12pm

I may be in the minority here but I am encouraged by this "scaled-back" version of the proposed Park Station. When one considers the mish-mash of businesses that currently reside there I am confident that virtually ANY proposal for the site will be a substantial upgrade to the neighborhood. With the downtown streetscape being vastly improved later this year (minus the PBID intrigue, thankfully!) and Park Station on the horizon, I am looking forward to great things in the central portion of La Mesa.

Comment by Kevin G George on January 31, 2014 at 4:18pm

These comments are so reminiscent of the great trolley wars of the mid 80s.

People who voiced their opposition back then, good Citizens like like Aaron and William, were rewarded for their civic involvement and their love of La Mesa by being called Luddites and of course, racists.

I greatly appreciate your fervor fellas but you will be steamrolled over by the powers that be and their friends in government, just like we were then.

There is far too much money involved here for a City with a looming financial disaster to be bothered by the social and financial repercussions to the public. The past decisions of the Mayor and Council regarding public employee salaries/pensions and infrastructure are coming home to roost and we are forced to hold the Park Station bag because we need the money, pure and simple. 

The sale of the adjacent property across El Cajon Blvd( notice that that property is not even shown in the demo) to the Park Station outfit a couple of years ago should have been the tell tale of things to come, but it was summarily ignored by nearly everyone. 

A deal that pulled La Mesa's budget out of the red and back into the black in a nick of time.

Whew, that was close to everyone finding out the Emperor had no clothes.

Comment by Esteban Camisado on January 31, 2014 at 2:25pm

bad fit

but city is outa wallet so they try to stuff size 13 foot into a ladys petite shoe

citys first people second


thanks very little

concerned citizen     

Comment by Aaron Seth on January 31, 2014 at 11:32am

This may be "scaled down" however it is still a major departure from the surrounding community. Yes, the current property is an unkempt eyesore and needs to be developed, but are we really to trust the same people who have kept it an eyesore to build something beautiful with the citizens of La Mesa in mind. No. What this is is developers trying to squeeze as many units as possible into the space to maximize profit - with zero consediration on the projects impact on the city.

This may bring in more revenue to the city, but that revenue that would be quickly eaten up as surrounding home values go down because of the new eyesore, the increased traffic and cars being parked on surrounding streets (does anyone really think that ALL these people don't have cars, don't need parking spots and take the trolley everywhere), which leads to more home prices going down in adjacent areas, and as that happens the demand for "luxury" units in park station go down and became "low-income" units and crime goes up, shops move out of the village and the death spiral for the city begins.

This may sound dramatic but that's what this project is a dramatic departure from what has traditionally brought people to La Mesa and has led to us not becoming "college-area east" but a destination for people looking for a quiet picturesque community minutes from downtown.

Park Station is a cancer that will eat at the heart of La Mesa and we need to stop it!

Let your voices be heard, any development in that location MUST adhere to the already established Village area zoning rules!

Comment by william adams on January 31, 2014 at 10:57am

My thoughts on the topic can be found under this subtly titled link: Godzilla formally applies to eat La Mesa Village.  Then there's the issue of whether it's even a real project or whether its an upzone, hold and flip play.  Collapsing bricks-n-mortar retail sector, no hotel financing (especially in the burbs), no financing or demand for market rate suburban high rises (it's tough enough in DT SD where prices are much higher - market rate residential here doesn't pencil out above wood frame construction). 

Comment by Esteban Camisado on January 31, 2014 at 10:21am

"Projects like Park Station, however, are finding support from regional planners who believe planned, higher density growth along public transportation lines is far preferable to more suburban sprawl into surrounding deserts"


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