The board also heard an urgent plea from those spearheading the La Jolla Children’s Pool Walkway project that it’s “now or never” to come up with funding to construct a sidewalk and other improvements.
Jon Williams, CEO of Davlyn Investments, which purchased the 30,000-square-foot building at 7863 Girard Ave., currently populated only by Panera Bread, described the seven-month-long planning process to redevelop it as “grueling.”
“We’re in the middle of summer and our plan is to open Dec. 1,” Williams told merchants. “We won’t be able to do that unless we start demolition soon.”
Williams said extensive building improvements by previous owner Bill Berkeley will all have to be removed.
“We’re doing a luxury retail center and we need to show that during construction as well,” Williams said, assuring the LJVMA board that construction activity would be done “sensitively.”
LJVMA chair Phil Coller said the construction moratorium is really a misnomer.
“It’s not a moratorium on construction,” he said, pointing out the moratorium is actually on doing anything that would interfere with the public right-of-way or with parking or anything else that would interfere with business activity.
Not everyone on the LJVMA Board was immediately onboard with lifting the summer moratorium.
“What about the noise factor?” asked board member Nancy Warwick. “I’m concerned about the impacts on adjoining merchants.”
Some were supportive of the design, but cautioned that developers should keep La Jolla’s community plan in mind.
“I think this would be a tremendous improvement over what’s there now,” said board treasurer Tom Brady, adding he felt it important that other community groups, like La Jolla Community Planning Association, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, get a chance first to weigh in on lifting the construction moratorium since it affects the community plan.
A motion by board member Claudette Berwin in favor of the group’s authoring a letter advocating lifting the construction moratorium and allowing Davlyn to begin site demolition as soon as July 15 passed by a wide majority.
Patrick Ahern and Phyllis Minick of La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. gave a presentation detailing the status of the La Jolla Children’s Pool Walkway. The walkway is a visionary plan to remodel and re-vegetate the popular coastal attraction above where harbor seals haul out. The walkway is being done concurrently with construction of a new Children’s Pool lifeguard tower, which is underway.
But there’s a snag.
“We either raise the money for the sidewalk immediately — or it’s a dead issue,” said Minick, noting she’s written 22 grant proposals already for funding.
“Anything would help,” she said, passing around a giant shoebox for donations. “We’d love to have $100 per person, but we’d be glad to have $1 per person.”
Ahern, who described the project’s cobbled walls as “the connective fabric through the coastline, said the cost will double over time if construction doesn’t start soon. The fundraising drive for walkway improvements, he said, is a “one-time ask.”
“We’re not going to keep coming back asking for money for maintenance,” he said. “This is a project that will last for generations. It’s our jewel.”
Ahern said walkway improvements are estimated to cost about $250,000.
To date, Minnick said about $8,000 has been raised.