By Delle Willett
Last year in March of 2020 I wrote about a work-in-progress East Village project called the 14th St. Greenway. (I called it the 14th St. Promenade.) And now, a year later, the City of San Diego unveiled the first of 11 blocks of the Greenway project, on 14th St. between G St. and Market St.
The 14th Street Greenway came to life about three years ago when the planning, design, and communications firm of MIG, under the leadership of MIG’s Rick Barrett, Principal-in-Charge and Project Manager, Kenya Huezo, worked for over a year on a Master Plan with Civic San Diego, primarily with Brad Richter, Kathleen Brand and Daniel Kay.
In the process of developing a plan, MIG landscape architects held a series of workshops to hear what the residents of the area wanted.
Said Barrett, “The one main thing that we heard from the public was, ‘Don’t make it a homogenous solution over the 11 blocks from C St. to National Ave. Make it feel like San Diego.’”
In the planning process, Barrett and Huezo, a landscape architect with MIG, along with Kathleen Brand, had numerous meetings with the Bob Sinclair Family.
For the MIG team, Barrett said, “The fun part was working with the amazing Sinclair Collection of industrial artifacts collected over the years by East Village visionary Bob Sinclair (‘an industrial archaeologist’) that depicts the rich history of the East Village industrial era and is the largest collection of memorabilia of old East Village.”
The team looked at dozens of different industrial artifacts that Sinclair had collected over the years that could be repurposed into the 14th Street Greenway streetscape for public enjoyment.
This included a variety of machines from the 1930s and 1940s when the East Village was originally a makers’ district, historic East Village and downtown metal signs, historic utility manhole covers, and granite paving blocks.
Four pieces from Sinclair’s collection of historic machinery from East Village metal-working businesses are on display, dedicated to the industrial history of the former East Village, as well as to Bob Sinclair, who became part of the neighborhood’s history and legacy.
The 14th St. Greenway is along the east side of 14th St., between G St. and Market St. with an approximate 26-foot pedestrian area that includes a sidewalk and a strolling trail. There are two travel lanes for cars and parking only on the west side of the street. The west side of the street has standard 14’ sidewalks.
This new green space features improved LED lighting and curb ramps, a double row of Chinese Elm and Western Red Bud trees, along with landscaping featuring 200 plants, creating a safety buffer between pedestrians and vehicle traffic.
The Master Plan is based on three branded, context-driven districts that celebrate the past and bring the future of the neighborhood forward, creating an urban trail that is uniquely East Village. “Where history unites with today’s modern working neighborhood and continues to promote innovation, design, education and art,” reads the MIG Design Narrative.
The plan includes the four-block Entertainment and Innovation District between J St. and National Ave.; the four-block Park District between F St. and J St.; and the three-block Urban Discovery and Play District between C St. and F St.
All tolded, the 14th St. Greenway is a series of six interconnected greenways being planned along 14th St. in East Village. Once completely implemented, it will extend 11 blocks from C St. to Commercial St. Five other greenways will be located along 8th Ave., Cedar St., E St., Island Ave., and Union St. Later this year, the City of San Diego will construct a second and third block immediately to the south between Market St. and Island Ave. and within the East Village Green park to the north.
Continuous elements unite the three districts and include plantings, outdoor furniture, recreation elements, dog stations, streetlights, paving, artwork, interpretive elements, bioswales and gateway elements.
The City of San Diego’s newly created Urban Division will oversee the implementation of the project along with future pedestrian greenways and other street-enhancement projects. The 14th Street Greenway, along with five other greenways, was included in the Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan, approved by the City in 2016. The long-term goal of the plan is to boost safety and fight climate change.
— Delle Willett has been a marketing and public relations professional for over 30 years, with an emphasis on conservation of the environment.