I-805 Gateway Beautification Project will offer welcoming entrance into North Park and City Heights
By Monica Garske | SDUN Reporter
Thanks to the combined efforts of North Park Main Street (NPMS), the City Heights Business Association (CHBA) and one dedicated Uptown resident, a new and welcoming community beautification project is well underway.
The idea came approximately six months ago, when North Park resident and NPMS board member Steve Codraro was sitting in traffic at the corner of University and Wabash avenues, near the northbound I-805 exit ramp.
Codraro said that is when he noticed a small area, containing overgrown weeds and a cracked cinder-block wall, in major need of aesthetic improvement.
“This space caught my eye because it’s in a prominent area that leads into both North Park and City Heights,” Codraro said, who also owns a home development company.
“I thought, ‘This area should really be in better condition. It doesn’t reflect the greatness of the two communities.’”
Codraro then decided to initiate the I-805 Gateway Beautification Project, an effort to spruce up the dilapidated area with a new, more welcoming public art and landscape installation.
“Our main goal with this Gateway Project is to send a more welcoming message about the two vibrant communities, North Park and City Heights,” Codraro said, explaining his motivation.
NPMS executive director Angela Landsberg said their community organization got behind Codraro’s neighborhood improvement idea, agreeing that it was a shame the entrance into two uptown communities looked so shabby.
From there, they contacted San Diego Gas & Electric, who owns the cinder block wall that covers the utility boxes in the Gateway space, Landsberg said, and the company gave them a grant to get started on the beautification project.
Landsberg also said the owner of Moreno Brake and Tire, located near the beautification site, gave them the green light to improve the space as well.
“The City Heights Business Association also got on board to help and [District Three Councilmember] Todd Gloria supported the project by offering additional funding,” Landsberg said.
“I was proud to contribute funds generated from my office budget savings for the I-805 Gateway Beautification Project,” Gloria said. “Clearing unsightly weeds and a wall to make way for public art will make this entryway into the North Park and City Heights communities far more welcoming.”
After completion, the new installation, which will feature artwork across two sides of the wall, will cost between $3,000 and $4,000. The artwork on the new wall will feature significant community landmarks, including the North Park water tower, a trolley and the City Heights Euclid Avenue tower.
Local designer Luke English, a graduate of Downtown’s NewSchool of Architecture and Design, donated his time to help create the concept for the artwork, Landsberg said, adding that the next step for the project is getting the art on the wall and cleaning up the landscape.
The group is hoping to get local nurseries in North Park and City Heights to donate new plants for the space around the wall, Codraro said. After that, he plans to host a community improvement day where local residents can volunteer their time to help install the entrance.
“We want to keep this as community-based as possible, from start to finish, and involve residents from North Park and City Heights,” Codraro said.
Though no exact date has been set yet for the volunteer day, they expect to host it sometime in late August. Both Codraro and Landsberg said the I-805 Gateway should be up by late August or early September.
Once it is up, Landsberg said local businesses in the area plan to take turns “adopting” the Gateway, taking care of its maintance on a quarterly basis.
Because of the positive outreach and support for this beautification project, Codraro said he is looking ahead to future improvement endeavors in Uptown.
“We’ve formed a mini group called Keep an Eye on North Park, and we are already canvasing the neighborhood for more improvement projects,” he said.
Anyone who would like to help with the I-805 Gateway Project, including the future volunteer day, can donate time or funds by contacting NPMS through their website, northparkmainstreet.com.