Manny Lopez | Uptown News
Community update meetings on the Mission Hills-Hillcrest Branch Library plan are being held to give residents the opportunity to share comments and ask questions about the $20 million municipal building project scheduled for completion in 2017.
Engineers from Architects Mosher Drew of San Diego — the project’s designer — recently unveiled their plan for a new single story, 15,000-square-foot library complex, built on top of a two-level underground parking structure with roughly 85 parking spaces.
The Mission Hills-Hillcrest Branch Library will replace the existing 3,850-square-foot Mission Hills facility built in 1961 at the intersection of Washington and Goldfinch streets. The new design relies partially on clean, renewable energy sources, which will earn it LEED Silver Certification, the minimum requirement for newly constructed municipal buildings in the latest draft of the City’s Climate Action Plan.
The design also includes such features as community meeting rooms, computer labs, separate areas for children and teens, natural lighting and a community gardening area.
“We’re very excited about the library project,” said Luke Terpstra, chair of the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC). “I’m ready to declare this the perfect building. The presentation was very clear and I really wasn’t left with a lot of questions.”
While attending the Hillcrest Town Council meeting on June 10, University Heights resident Sol Schumer said that, overall, he was impressed with the library project. Schumer added that he hopes designers will adopt some of the features included in the new main library facility located Downtown and improve on certain areas such as parking and signage.
Kath Rogers, vice chair of the HTC, said she enjoyed the idea of a community garden and the use of natural lighting.
“I love that they are working with an environmental consultant on reducing green house gases and environmental impacts,” she said. “The community meeting space will also be really important to our community.”
The new library will be located at the vacant International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers building north of Florence Elementary School on the southwest corner of Washington Street between Front and Albatross streets. A $10 million private donation made it possible for the long-awaited library branch project to proceed.
The City is providing the rest of the funding for the project, primarily through infrastructure bonds, which are the subject of litigation. Council President Todd Gloria said he is confident the matter will be resolved and that construction will begin late in 2015.
“It’s an attractive building and it has the components that I think we’re interested in terms of it being 21st century technology,” Gloria said. “It hits most of the marks we’re looking for, but if we’ve missed something this is an opportunity for the community to start telling us what we’ve missed and hopefully we can find a plan to go forward with this.”
So far, both the HTC and the Mission Hills Town Council have hosted meetings. The next gathering is scheduled for 6 p.m., July 1, at the Joyce Beers Community Center at the monthly Uptown Planners meeting.
“We’ve tried to be responsive to the community and we want to provide a facility that this community so badly needs after so many years,” said Larry Hoeksema, president of Architects Mosher Drew. “We’re here to listen to what the community wants and to get their feedback so that we can create something that the community can use and be very proud of.”
Hoeksema, said that the questions most asked by residents are related to square footage, parking, connections with the neighboring school and the potential for additional gardening space.
More information on the Hillcrest-Mission Hills library project can be found at library92103.org.