By Leo Wilson
Recently, the visionary concept of building a public park on top of a multi-story parking garage in Hillcrest has been put forward by the Uptown Gateway Council.
The Uptown Gateway Council is a group of commercial property owners in Hillcrest who hope to transform the area roughly between Fourth and Seventh avenues and from Washington Street to Pennsylvania Avenue.
The location would be the current Rite Aid parking lot on Robinson Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The proposal, which at present is in the initial concept stage, has been very favorably received by many people in the Uptown community.
Although the location of the parking garage would be in Hillcrest, it would greatly benefit Bankers Hill as well. A shuttle from the parking garage could travel along Fourth and Fifth avenues through Bankers Hill, bringing people into the community to patronize our businesses, and experience Bankers Hill and neighboring Balboa Park.
The concept of building a parking garage structure in Hillcrest has been talked about for over two decades. The Uptown Community Parking District was originally formed for the purpose of building a Hillcrest parking garage, and accumulated a reserve of several million dollars to build it. The money is still there, and may at last finally be used for its intended purpose.
Unfortunately, past attempts to build a Hillcrest parking garage were not successful. What the project requires is an effective public-private partnership, spearheaded by local property owners, business leaders, and those in the development and construction industry with experience in this type of project. This is what the Uptown Gateway Council is now putting together.
It is time to finally get the Hillcrest parking garage structure built. All stakeholders in Uptown should get behind this effort. A major parking garage would have the benefit of reducing traffic congestion, freeing up parking, and increased public safety. As in many European cities, the emphasis would be on limiting automobiles to certain areas, and increasing walkability and pedestrian amenities in the rest of the community.
The Metro San Diego Community Development Corp. (Metro San Diego CDC), which is predominately made up of Bankers Hill property owners and business leaders, has strongly endorsed the Uptown Gateway Council park/parking garage proposal, and made it one of its priority projects.
Representatives of the Hillcrest Gateway Council and Hillcrest business community now sit on the Metro San Diego CDC board of directors, and hopefully a collaborative effort will take place among these organizations, as well as other interested Uptown stakeholders, to make the Hillcrest park/parking garage concept project a reality.
—Leo Wilson is the administrator for Metro San Diego CDC.