There are 57 million square miles of land on earth, including the 4,206 square miles of San Diego County. Even as our population grows, spaces in the midst of our concrete jungle lay strangely fallow. This is an occasional series to explore those mysteriously unused or seemingly untended bits of land.
Why are we picking on that lot? There are new plans to demolish the California Theatre, a historic building that has been notoriously shuttered for a quarter-century. In its place, a developer wants to put up a 40-story high rise with retail on the bottom and nearly 300 residential units up top.
Previous plans to redevelop the theater haven’t worked and sparked opposition from preservationists. The rundown theater is one of the main characters on C Street, the so-called Boulevard of Broken Dreams in the heart of San Diego. All of this is happening right across from City Hall.
The site’s developer hopes the new project will help revive that stretch of downtown.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
It's 2016 now, so i am late to the party with my comment. I attended events in the California Theatre in the 1990's (silent movies with pipe organ back-up). Like the theatre's lower exterior facade, the theatre is just beautiful. it would be geat if it could be preserved. On the other hand, as a downtown resident, I know that the delapiidated 'C" street area needs a lot of help, and a mixed-use building that brings hundreds of people to that area, can surely do that. How about the developer saving the lower exterior facade, and building above it. The theatre, and its ornate walls and ceiling, could serve as the lobby and a community room. Bosa Development applied this approach in building its "Elektra" residential project out of the old SDG&E steam plant (on Broadway & Kuttner). It is a beautiful project.
"1122 4th Ave. LLC, a subsidiary of Beverly Hills-based Sloan Capital" should be held accountable for breaking the "demolition by neglect" laws.
Before we go charging head first into the beautiful new glass tower, I would like the city and the developers to clearly outline what energy and water conservation features this new building would include. Solar power? Above average insulation? Graywater system? Dual-flush residential toilets? Beyond conservation, what pedestrian-friendly features are they going to include in the project? Widening the sidewalk? Safer bike lanes? Minimizing parking/traffic issues? I'm all for revamping the old and developing newer and better things, but our city needs to consider what the requirements should be before handing out permits.
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San Diegans who frequent downtown know that something has to be done with that site, as well as much of C Street. However, it would be a shame to lose the entire structure. Here is a thought: How about preserving the first 5 floors of the C Street facade? It has wonderful architectural detail (see the photo in the article) and would even be a plus for the new project. Bosa Development preserved the old SDG&E steam plant facade when it built Electra downtown. It worked out very well.
While I would hate to see it go, I understand that it would be cost prohibitive to rehabilitate the structure. Even losing the Caliente sign would be a shame, but that block really needs to be redone. That block is essentially "dead" and probably a little dangerous too. C Street has lagged behind other areas of downtown even though that's where the trolley stops are. A new building that maybe can be a landmark in and of itself can at least give the street some hope. Just make it pedestrian friendly and not some monolith.
Oh God I hope so! I try to avoid Fourth Avenue when walking downtown because that place has been very scary over the years -- especially after dark -- with all sorts of people camped outside it.
Once I led two visitors past that site while walking home from a Mainly Mozart concert at the Balboa Theater, and they were scandalized. Now it's got a wire fence surrounding it, which made me hope something was about to happen. Please God may it happen soon!!