Park Station Lowers Its Sights

LA MESA -- Citing the changing real estate market place and acknowledging the strong local opposition to high-rise development in La Mesa, the planners working on the Park Station project in downtown La Mesa have dramatically scaled back the proposed project.

In a press release, the planners working for the Kitzman family have reduced the height proposed on the Baltimore Drive site to four stories for 60 percent of the project closest to Baltimore and at six stories for the portion of the project closer to Spring Street.

The number of housing units has also been scaled back in response to generally strong opposition from neighbors who complained that the original 18-stories would block views and was not in keeping with La Mesa's small-town feel.

The scaled-down project will have to return to the Planning Commission before eventually returning to the City Council for final review. Here is the full press release from Urban Housing Partners:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2015
Park Station Dramatically Reduces Specific Plan Size and Lowers Building Heights
Much has changed over the last 10 years, especially the economy and the real estate market. When the Park Station Specific Plan was first authored in 2004, the real estate market was at an all-time high. There was a huge demand for newly built condominiums driving the market. Many people were interested in high-rise buildings because they maximized views and provided the ability to include highly desired lifestyle amenities such as: rooftop pools, community gathering spaces, and fitness centers. When the lending industry and a number of banks collapsed in 2008, so did the entire real estate industry and new home sales.
In an effort to obtain community feedback regarding the Park Station Specific Plan the Park Station team conducted numerous merchant walks in the La Mesa Village, gathering feedback from store owners and employees. They also held many Facilitated Discussions and gave over 50 presentations to Community Organizations.
The feedback from the community in 2010-2013 showed that they liked the proposed Specific Plan overall but some didn’t like the 180-foot height limit (high-rise) in the rear zone of the property; many felt that the size and scale didn’t fit into La Mesa. Based on this feedback the development team reduced the maximum height in the rear zone of the Specific Plan from 180-feet (approximately18stories) to 110-feet (approximately 9stories).
In 2014 the Park Station development team appeared before the La Mesa Planning Commission. The feedback from some members of the community at the Planning Commission hearing was that they only wanted to see a height limit of 4 stories on the site, but many felt that 6 stories might be appropriate in the rear portion of the site.
Based on that community feedback, the Park Station team has decided to reduce the Specific Plan height elements to be consistent with the height limitations offered under the current overlay zone of the Downtown Specific Plan, which is 4 to 6 stories. This results in approximately 60% of the site being zoned for 4 stories maximum (along Baltimore Drive) and the remaining 40% of the site being zoned for 6 stories maximum
(back along Spring Street, adjacent to the I-8 freeway). The 6 story maximum in the rear 40% of the site allows for a hotel, office, and more open space.
The number of units has also been reduced. In 2005 the Specific Plan allowed for up to 484 units. Prior to Park Station’s Planning Commission hearing the number of units was reduced to 416. When the Planning Commission hearing concluded, the Park Station team further reduced that number to 363 units.
When the City revised their Environmental Impact Report (EIR) based upon these changes, Bill Chopyk, Community Development Director said "The impact on aesthetics has been reduced to less than significant with the proposed project changes." In other words, the prior version of the Specific Plan's height limits of 180-feet or 110-feet created the site’s only significant environmental impact which could not be mitigated. As of today the Specific Plan no longer has any unmitigated impacts.
Park Station has the potential to provide a boost to the local economy by generating new tax revenue for city services. It will create new jobs, and new housing opportunities for current and future La Mesa residents. Park Station will also utilize environmentally-friendly smart growth principles, offering residents the opportunity to live, work, shop, and dine near community services and convenient public transportation.
The Park Station team will be presenting the reduced Park Station Specific Plan to the Planning Commission on May 20th at 7:00 p.m.

Views: 763

Tags: Government, La Mesa Today, Park Station

Comment

You need to be a member of La Mesa Today - Community Website & Online Newspaper to add comments!

Join La Mesa Today - Community Website & Online Newspaper

Comment by Frank Robert Dittmer on September 10, 2015 at 5:42pm

Hey, Redstripe,  I like the way you used Progressive and Liberal and related them so closely.  perfect.  Liberals are progressive people and thanks for the complement.  

Comment by Don Wood on May 22, 2015 at 5:37pm

Since the developers promoting this project laundered tons of money via the Lincoln club to the two new city council members, its a good bet that this project will get its zoning exemption when it gets to the new city council. Follow the money and watch.

Comment by Suda House on May 17, 2015 at 5:58pm

Park Station lowers it sights.

Like the camel’s nose under the tent, Park Station sees an opportunity to coax us into believeing, that by lowering the height of the buildings, they have finally heard us and the Planning Commission should approve their specific plan.

Wait!  Let’s review their press release.

• Park Station skillfully constructs a ten-year history of the project, noting the economy downturn and the real estate market, yet when they scoped the project to the public in December of 2009, we were squarely in the center of this financial chaos. Eighteen stories were supposedly just what La Mesa needed, even though so many of us knew then, there was no financing for building projects of this magnitude.

• When Park Station reduced the height to two ten-story buildings, and received further push back by the community, including the wisdom of the American Legion to withdraw its co-applicant status. They again spin the past as hearing us, yet in actuality Park Station Specific Plan was denied 6-1 by the Planning Commission.

• Now, Park Station is back again before the Planning Commission this Wednesday evening at 7 pm in City Council chambers. They are proposing heights from 4-6 stories, noting that their Specific Plan is consistent with the Downtown Specific Plan, yet they are actually seeking removal from the Downtown Specific Plan to become their own unique development.

So do you believe they have finally heard us? 

NO, they have not, because imbedded in their Park Station Specific Plan is a blank check to develop the property as they see fit with no further approval or restrictions by the City except they will adhere to 4-6 stories. 

You must read the Staff Report sent to the Planning Commissioners this week:

“The primary concerns to be considered by the Planning Commission focus on applicant’s request for a “by-right approval” of increased density, increased building height, a hotel/motel, and reduced parking without the normal opportunity for community input and approval of the specific type of buildings and development that will be proposed in the future. Approval of the Park Station Specific Plan would waive the City’s authority to review a Special Permit for increased building height and preempt the City’s ability to place appropriate conditions on a CUP for a future hotel/motel use.”

What is by-right approval?

By-right appoval means that the developers of Park Station do not need to get any further permission, oversight or community feedback once their “specific plan” is approved. They can basically do whatever they want on the site and the city has no recourse if it is drastically different then what they proposed they were going to build.

Do we really want to give a blank check to Park Station? 

Ask yourself, after ten years of this shuffling, slight of hand, show-boating and otherwise spinning of the truth, do you believe they have really heard us and we can trust them to deliver what they have proposed?

I know I cannot. 

The camel’s nose has been under the tent too long. Park Station wants us to let the camel in the tent by approving their Specific Plan with by-right approval. This newest tactic is just another shell game by the Kitzmans to up-zone their 50 year old property, increasing its value through greater build-out and density and now with an added provision that there will be no intervention by the City .

The City of La Mesa has a Mixed Use Overlay Plan for developments like Park Station and ten years ago the Kitzman’s could have built a lovely park setting of homes, live-work spaces, shops and businesses by simply following the guidelines already in place, thus creating the legacy to their father they so want to be a gift to La Mesa. 

Unfortunately, their gift comes with strings attached that could open up our City to other developers using the Park Station Specific Plan as a reason for their development to have its own plan. 

No more that four in the Mixed Use Overlay Plan is already the smart growth for our city, providing us all with the guidlines, safeguards and aesthetics necessary to accommodate the changes inevitable in a city moving into the 21st century.

Park Station may be lowering its sights, but we need to keep our standards high and our vision strong for our city. No more than four continues to be the best choice for La Mesa.

I urge the Planning Commission to deny the proposed specific plan for Park Station.

Sincerely,

Suda House

La Mesa Resident since 1986

Comment by Suda House on May 17, 2015 at 11:13am

Park Station lowers it sights.

Like the camel’s nose under the tent, Park Station sees an opportunity to coax us into believeing, that by lowering the height of the buildings, they have finally heard us and the Planning Commission should approve their specific plan.

Wait!  Let’s review their press release.

• Park Station skillfully constructs a ten-year history of the project, noting the economy downturn and the real estate market, yet when they scoped the project to the public in December of 2009, we were squarely in the center of this financial chaos. Eighteen stories were supposedly just what La Mesa needed, even though so many of us knew then, there was no financing for building projects of this magnitude.

• When Park Station reduced the height to two ten-story buildings, and received further push back by the community, including the wisdom of the American Legion to withdraw its co-applicant status. They again spin the past as hearing us, yet in actuality Park Station Specific Plan was denied 6-1 by the Planning Commission.

• Now, Park Station is back again before the Planning Commission this Wednesday evening at 7 pm in City Council chambers. They are proposing heights from 4-6 stories, noting that their Specific Plan is consistent with the Downtown Specific Plan, yet they are actually seeking removal from the Downtown Specific Plan to become their own unique development.

So do you believe they have finally heard us? 

NO, they have not, because imbedded in their Park Station Specific Plan is a blank check to develop the property as they see fit with no further approval or restrictions by the City except they will adhere to 4-6 stories. 

You must read the Staff Report sent to the Planning Commissioners this week:

“The primary concerns to be considered by the Planning Commission focus on applicant’s request for a “by-right approval” of increased density, increased building height, a hotel/motel, and reduced parking without the normal opportunity for community input and approval of the specific type of buildings and development that will be proposed in the future. Approval of the Park Station Specific Plan would waive the City’s authority to review a Special Permit for increased building height and preempt the City’s ability to place appropriate conditions on a CUP for a future hotel/motel use.”

What is by-right approval?

By-right appoval means that the developers of Park Station do not need to get any further permission, oversight or community feedback once their “specific plan” is approved. They can basically do whatever they want on the site and the city has no recourse if it is drastically different then what they proposed they were going to build.

Do we really want to give a blank check to Park Station? 

Ask yourself, after ten years of this shuffling, slight-of-hand, show-boating and otherwise spinning of the truth, do you believe they have really heard us and we can trust them to deliver what they have proposed?

I know I cannot. 

The camel’s nose has been under the tent too long. Park Station wants us to let the camel in the tent by approving their Specific Plan with by-right approval. This newest tactic is just another shell game by the Kitzmans to up-zone their 50 year old property, increasing its value through greater build-out and density and now with an added provision that there will be no intervention by the City .

The City of La Mesa has a Mixed Use Overlay Plan for developments like Park Station and ten years ago the Kitzman’s could have built a lovely park setting of homes, live-work spaces, shops and businesses by simply following the guidelines already in place, thus creating the legacy to their father they so want to be a gift to La Mesa. 

Unfortunately, their gift comes with strings attached that could open up our City to other developers using the Park Station Specific Plan as a reason for their development to have its own plan.

No more that four in the Mixed Use Overlay Plan is already the smart growth for our city, providing us all with the guidlines, safeguards and aesthetics necessary to accommodate the changes inevitable in a city moving into the 21st century.

Park Station may be lowering its sights, but we need to keep our standards high and our vision strong for our city. No more than four continues to be the best choice for La Mesa.

I urge the Planning Commission to deny the proposed specific plan for Park Station.

Respectfully,

Suda House

La Mesa resident since 1986

 

 

Comment by Scott H. Kidwell on May 17, 2015 at 7:34am

Like many others I have unsatisfied concerns regarding the proposed Park Station Project, even in the latest incarnation. In looking at the project website I see the following items:

Environmentally Friendly Smart Growth Design

The plan would utilize smart growth principles, offering local residents an opportunity to live and work near convenient public transit and community services. Park Station would also integrate environmentally friendly materials and designs to promote a healthy lifestyle. The community would feature drought-resistant native landscaping, and all buildings would utilize water-conserving features and Energy Star rated appliances.

Open Spaces

The plan would also promote walkability by providing open courtyards, landscaped paths, wide sidewalks, and large buffers between pedestrians and vehicles.

Shopping and Dining

New ground floor shops and restaurants along Baltimore Drive would provide residents with convenient shopping and dining opportunities.

Given what the developer is proposing I wonder why there is any residential parking at all? How can anyone expect a so-called smart development steer folks into public transportation when resident parking is included at all? I just don't see this is a true Environmentally Friendly Smart Growth Design wherein public transportation is the expected, indeed required, mode of travel for residents and their guests.

Also, I think it is fair to say the local residents had to expect site development up to what the maximum current zoning would allow. But if the developer wants anything above current zoning, what is he willing to pay impacted  locals to mitigate the degradation of their quality of life, and/or property values because of increased traffic, reduction/loss of views, increase of noise, etc. If the developer is going to make an increased profit from the change in zoning, why would not the locals impacted be entitled to fair compensation for their quality of life losses that flow from that change?

Is this really a smart growth project to get the folks into public transportation, or just smoke and mirrors promotion wherein the property owner is using politically correct design buzz words to get around the current zoning and walk away with a increased profit, all at the congestion expense of the city and negative quality of life impacts of local residents? I am curious as to why the developer would spend so much money during the initial conception and design phase of this project so many years ago without some reasonably solid assurances, from someone with authority, this project would get the zoning changes needed.

Comment by David Stanley on May 10, 2015 at 4:34pm

Chris,I sat down and penned a response to you but realized it was futile. You have heard nothing I have said, only what you want to hear. A Conservative view is totally lost on any Progressive/Liberal audience. Any argument is dismissed and mocked. Thus most words are censored, as you have done mine, and the responder assumes a tsk, tsk position as though any rebuttal to your or any Liberal's view is merely dismissed as "Blunt Passion" hate speech, regardless of content. So, why bother? I certainly will never assume the position and kowtow.

Comment by La Mesa Today on May 10, 2015 at 9:55am
David,
I appreciate your engagement and value full discussion of political decisions. I do think in time even you will come to regret describing gay residents as deviant. The range of human sexuality argues for understanding and respect. I am sure my gay friends would love not to seek federal intervention just as my black friends and family would have preferred to rely on human decency. However, as some of your comments display - and as our history has proven over and over again - the greatness of America has been its ability to protect the rights of the minority from the blunt passions of the majority. What you rail against, at times, is what has distinguished us from the failures and excessive power of civilizations past. Just my view. La Mesa is a great place because of all of its citizens, including you. Love your paintings of Mt. Helix.
Chris
Comment by David Stanley on May 9, 2015 at 10:11am

Have you noticed that over past decades I would venture to say ALL Progressive/Liberal groups and organizations seeking to overturn the system for their own greedy purposes can never be dissuaded? Hippies from the 60s demand legalization of marijuana. Voters: "Stuff it!". Back they come finding a few corrupt judges. Again on the ballots. Voters:, "Stuff it!" Back they come again and again until enough corruption exists to get it done! Homosexuals dont demand equal treatment as they should have anyway. They demand federal government protection as a "Protected Class" and to be allowed to publically display socially deviant activities, not be allowed to corrupt the Constitution as well social mores accepted for millenia for to completely change our nation to accomodate THEM! Votgers: "Stuff it!". And back they come with more corrupt judges. Voters: "Stuff it". And back again and again. They never accept the vote against them. Exactly like these examples is the outfit spewing propaganda about Park Station. Remember when a certain part of the City was going to be forced to rebuild and be taxed even though few wanted it? Remember each of the grandiose schemes which would have resulted in higher prices, higher taxes, major disruption of the City's operations whilst THEY rubbed their hands in preparation for more income for themselves. Do you remember? Well I do. And here they are all over again. They assume you are stupid and all that other stuff was quickly forgotten. Well, probably was for a great many of the stupid citizens of La Mesa but not for a few. Karen Whitney is exactly correct: "THEY'RE BAAAACK"! Are you going to allow them to railroad you again for their self aggrandizement and personal bank accounts, not to mention political aspirations?

Comment by Karen Whitney on May 6, 2015 at 7:47pm

They're baaaaack.

Comment by Aaron Seth on May 6, 2015 at 8:54am

Now that you've read their PR spin visit: http://www.facebook.com/parkstationlamesanomorethanfour to get the real details...

La Mesa Weather

HousingWire

La Mesa Photos

  • Add La Mesa Photos
  • View All

La Mesa Member Videos

  • Add La Mesa Videos
  • View All

La Mesa TODAY is news intended to promote the betterment of La Mesa and its nearby neighborhoods. We want members who share this goal.

© 2019   Created by La Mesa Today.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service