Uptown News Briefs: Feb. 23, 2018

Posted: February 23rd, 2018 | News, Opinion & News, Uptown Briefs | No Comments


City Heights welcomed a renovated Fire Station 17 to the neighborhood on Thursday, Feb. 8. Construction began in June 2016 and cost approximately $10 million.

The station was originally built in 1924 at Orange and Chamoune avenues. In 1950, the facility moved to its current location at 41st Street and University Avenue; it had not been updated since.

(City of San Diego’s YouTube)

“We needed to build a modern, state-of-the-art fire station, and that’s exactly what this is,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at the fire station’s ribbon-cutting event.

The new 10,760-square-foot facility is three stories with 10 bedrooms, a gym, solar panels, and space to accommodate two fire engines and an ambulance.

“This important infrastructure speaks volumes about the service, about the support, about the integration in the community,” Faulconer continued. “It’s built with the future in mind.”

Station 17 is one of the busiest fire stations in the city, serving the City Heights neighborhood and surrounding areas in a 4-square-mile district. They receive an average of 540 emergency calls per month.

This upgrade is part of a city-wide effort to build new fire stations and rebuild others to improve public safety services. In the past three years, six locations have been constructed or renovated, including North Park’s Fire Station 14 and Hillcrest’s No. 5, which is still under construction. A new station will also be opening in Little Italy later this year.

To see footage of the Fire Station 17 ribbon-cutting ceremony, visit


Communal Coffee, a North Park cafe on University Avenue, will be opening a South Park location at 2221 Fern St. in March.

Unlike the North Park space, the new cafe will be outdoors. It will be based out of a vintage 1959 Shasta trailer parked in a 2,000-square-foot lot, which was previously vacant. Similarly, North Park’s location — which opened in spring of 2016 — was formerly a long-dormant stretch of the neighborhood.

(Courtesy of Left Coast PR)

The South Park expansion will include an outdoor espresso bar, pastry shop and community space. A garden, scattered seating, and a stage will surround the trailer/espresso bar. Future live performances, movie nights, and community events are planned for the stage.

South Park’s menu will offer Communal Coffee’s signature lattes and espresso drinks, as well as Bay Area roaster Sightglass Coffee. Food items from local pastry shops, such as Nomad Donuts in North Park, will also be available.

Jen Byard, founder of Communal Coffee, is a South Park resident and wanted to turn her attention to her own neighborhood.

“Having solidified her status as one of San Diego’s hospitality pioneers, Jen looked to replicate the ethos of Communal Coffee in a new and inventive format,” a press release stated. “[She] set about creating a space that was at once aspirational and accessible, with a community-centric approach to the typical cafe experience.”

For more information on Communal Coffee, visit


Hillcrest’s longstanding LGBT restaurant and bar group known as MO’s Universe, which includes Urban MO’s Bar & Grill, Baja Betty’s, Gossip Grill and Hillcrest Brewing Company, is adding another venue. Called insideOUT and slated for a mid-March opening, the new venue will be located on the first floor of the Eitol Towers, the strikingly red housing development located at 1642 University Ave. in Hillcrest at the corner of Centre Street.

A view from inside Eitol Towers atrium, looking up (Courtesy MO’s Universe)

Mike Burnett, the San Diego based architect for Eitol Towers and an admitted frequent “long-time patron” of Urban MO’s and Baja Betty’s, knew he wanted the popular group involved in the project.

“I was familiar with their commitment to our community, their brand and most importantly their staff,” Burnett said. “I didn’t know Chris Shaw or Matt Ramon yet, but since I regularly attend the Dreamgirls show every Wednesday night, it was an easy connection to make. I knew they would fit the space great because my design intent was ‘upscale, causal fun’ and it needed to extend more energy down University.”

After meeting with Shaw and Ramon onsite, plans were made and Ramon got started developing the concept, which included the open area in the center of the Eitol Towers building as inspiration.

“insideOUT, or iO as we have already nicknamed it, is a casual, elegant restaurant that features an atrium surrounded by 13 live/work towers juxtaposed to contrast with San Diego’s gorgeous blue skies,” Ramon said. “The name is a nod to the LGBTQ community – we’re an out and proud LGBTQ owned and operated business.

“[insideOUT also includes] floor-to-ceiling glass front windows on the inside dining room and bar, a heated water feature [called] ‘the boi pond,’ and a switchback walkway with seating nooks to relax, see and be seen with a few more surprises along the way,” Ramon said.

Paris Sukomi Max will be managing the new location, which the press release described as “Hillcrest’s sexy, chic and refined destination for those who want to enjoy fine dining, craft cocktails and relax in style.”

Moe Girton, general manager of Gossip Grill, is developing the cocktail menu and the culinary aspect will be managed by Maryjo Testa, who is skilled in Italian and European culinary styles and many will remember as part of Gossip Grill’s original crew.

“I’ve returned to share my culinary skills with some of my most favorite dishes; grilled Spanish octopus, seven spiced Moroccan chicken tagine and paella style Fideo pasta,” Testa said. In addition, tableside Asian poke and Australian DIY grilled steaks are also planned.


(l to r) Artie Award sculptor of Jon Koehler and Artie Award winner Patric Stillman (Courtesy The Studio Door)

Visual artist Patric Stillman was recognized recently, for his contributions to the San Diego arts community with an Artie Award from Mission Federal ArtWalk due to his role in ArtWalk’s The Business of Art Scholarship.

“Personally, this acknowledgement is such a heartfelt honor,” said Stillman in a press release. “As an artist, entrepreneur and community activist, I often felt pulled in one direction or the other at various moments in my career. To be honored for achievements where I have found balance in all three areas while nurturing my fellow visual artists is a reward beyond riches. Thank you to Mission Federal ArtWalk for this honor.”

Stillman is also the owner The Studio Door, a community-based arts center located in North Park. He is a mentor to local artists and best known for his art-to-market incubator lab, designed to assist those interested in creative commerce. Outside of the art center, Stillman works with several art organizations, galleries, museums and associations.

Also awarded an Artie Award this year was Chantal Wnuk and Tracy Thalo of Artist & Craftsman, located in Hillcest. They join past recipients, including Patricia Fischer and Alan Ziter, who were in attendance at the Westgate Hotel event held Jan. 25, as a kick off for the April 28¬–29 Mission Federal ArtWalk.

“Mission Federal ArtWalk and San Diego Visual Arts Network have done so much over the years to support local artists,” Stillman said. “I’m proud to be collaborating with them on this project that gives an artist an understanding of the business aspects of the art industry.”

For more information, visit, and San Diego Visual Arts Network at



Uptown Planners will hold their annual board elections at their next meeting on Tuesday, March 6. Three seats are open for a term of four years.

All candidates must be residents, property owners, or business owners, operators, or designees; have attended three Uptown Planners board meetings within the last year; and submit an application to Michael Brennan, the Uptown Planners secretary, by Wednesday, Feb. 28.

To vote, individuals must present identification proving residency, property ownership, or business ownership in the Uptown area. Eligible voters can vote for up to three candidates on the ballot.

Prior to the vote, candidates will present 3-minute statements about their qualifications and why they would like to serve, or continue to serve, on the Uptown Planners Board. The election committee will announce the results during the meeting.

For more information, email or visit


The third annual Mission Hills 5K will occur on Saturday, March 10, at 8 a.m.

The run/walk event will wind through the Mission Hills neighborhood, beginning and ending at Grant K-8 School, located at 1425 Washington Place. Runners of all ages and fitness levels are welcome. Post-race festivities will include refreshments, music, and giveaways on the blacktop at Grant K-8.

All proceeds will help fund Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programs at the school. Last year, the Mission Hills 5K sold out at 750 registrants and raised almost $15,000.

“Thanks to the community’s overwhelming and continued support of the Mission Hills 5K, Grant K-8 is helping create a new generation of science and technology leaders,” said Kristin Boyd, a member of the Grant School Community Foundation and one of the event organizers, in a press release. “The programs we are funding today will build a strong STEAM foundation that will only continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead.”

The entry fee for the race is $30 per adult and $20 per child. Admission includes a Mission Hills 5K T-shirt and Lazy Acres goodie bag. Prices will increase closer to the event. To register, visit


(Courtesy J. Walcher Communications)

Barrios Hermanos, a collective that promotes cultural and business connections between neighborhoods in Tijuana and San Diego, will present an exhibit from artists Jorge Tellaeche and Rodrigo “Rod” Villa.

The exhibit will be hosted by the Rose Wine Bar, 2219 30th St. in South Park, from Feb. 23 to March 9. An opening night event with the artists will take place on Friday, Feb. 23, from 6–9 p.m.

“We invite San Diegans and our friends south of the border to check out these talented Mexico-based artists,” said Jean Walcher, one of the Barrios Hermanos organizers, in a press release. “Our goal is that this show will help foster a cross-cultural exchange of art, culture and ideas. We hope to do another one soon, bringing American artists down to Mexico.”

Tellaeche is a Mexico City-based artist whose work includes painting, sculptures and murals. Villa is known in Baja California for his large-scale murals on the streets of his hometown, Mexicali, as well as throughout San Diego.

Works will be for sale and artists will receive all proceeds. For more information on the Barrios Hermanos Art Show or the collective, visit


The Inez Grant Parker Rose Garden, located at 2125 Park Blvd. in Balboa Park, is accepting volunteers to join the Rose Garden Corps.

Volunteers work in the garden trimming off dead blooms, weeding, raking, fertilizing, pruning and planting new varieties. Volunteer days are Tuesday and/or Thursday mornings, preferably weekly, for two to three hours.

A monthly meeting in the Rose Garden is held the third Tuesday of each month at 9:15 a.m. The first meeting takes place on Tuesday, March 20. Volunteers will learn about roses and act as goodwill ambassadors to tourists who visit the garden.

For more information, contact Mary Rose at

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