Take a walk along 25th Street in Golden Hill and you’ll notice a neighborhood in transition. Weeds force their way through cracks in the uneven sidewalks lining the neighborhood’s main commercial strip, where notaries, a pawn broker, and auto repair shops share block space with hair salons and fruit grocers.
At the Golden Hill Cafe, with its weathered leather booths, owner Carmen Avery has been serving longtime regulars for more than 30 years. On evenings, on the opposite street corner, a small group of predominantly Latino pedestrians gathers around a cart offering tacos and tamales.
Across the street, outside the Turf Supper Club, a different crowd mingles. Young, hip 20-somethings smoke as they lean against the restaurant’s green brick walls. Inside, they sip cocktails and grill their own steaks. A few blocks south, a wine bar will soon occupy the ground floor of a modern, two-story mixed-use complex that features design studios and housing, and it’ll face a converted church that is serving as a local arts space.
Golden Hill is giving redevelopment a second go. The 25th Street Renaissance Project, which will bring sorely needed physical and infrastructural improvements to the retail strip, is expected to break ground within a year.
Several years ago, the neighborhood was widely expected to be San Diego’s next hot spot. Young singles and artists flocked to the community, and a new chic coffee shop, appropriately called Influx, opened on Broadway Avenue just east of the Interstate 5 in 2002.
But the neighborhood — which is bounded by Balboa Park to the north, the 5 and State Route 94 to the west and south, and 34th Street to the east — never developed as many community members had planned. Infrastructural improvements and retail development have languished along 25th Street as residents of Golden Hill have watched a more active and organized business community in South Park, just around the park’s southeastern corner, reinvent itself.