The school, which has been lightly used since it was closed in 1996 because of declining student enrollment, is now to be razed to make way for the condo project.
In 2013, San Diego Unified School District Board voted 4-1 to accept a bid of $18.5 million for the old Mission Beach Elementary School site.
The principals of the development company, who joined forces in February, have collectively developed more than 15,000 residential units, 2,500,000 square feet of office and industrial property and 5,000 units of master plans and subdivisions.
At the March 11 informational meeting and Q&A session at Santa Clara Point Recreation Center, Chris McKellar, Tim McGowan and architect Chris Barlow gave a brief presentation, displayed conceptual architectural renderings of the project and fielded tough questions from residents.
Concerns were raised about the prospect of the condo project worsening traffic congestion, whether it presented a fire hazard and whether it might change the character of the beach community, including examples of noise and other problems by units being reused as short-term vacation rentals.
McGowan said these individual, California coastal-style condo units that are 1,300 to 1,600 square feet in size will likely be priced at $900,000-plus. There will be four units in buildings likely to be constructed in phases.
“It will be in the higher-end range of what’s in Mission Beach (now),” McGowan said, adding the complex will be run by a homeowner’s association that will “control a lot of things.”
“The pattern of development is the same that’s currently in Mission Beach, with front doors coming off courts and with parking in garages off alleys,” said Barlow.
McGowan said the project originally had been proposed to have partial underground parking. But he said that idea was nixed by community planners and the city because it might “lose alleys, disrupt normal work patterns and threaten Mission Beach’s character.”
Plans for the as-yet-unnamed development also call for it to include a small population-based park that would provide green space and could have public art. But it would not be a sit-down, picnic-style space.
McGowan said construction on an approved project design would not likely begin for another year and a half, and take 18 months or more to complete once construction begins.
Residents weighed in.
“I have concerns about the (high) density and about it being a fire hazard, which is a concern to all of us living in the area because we just had a traumatic experience with a fire,” said one resident.
“I suggest low water-use landscaping,” said another resident.
One prospective neighbor suggested there should be something in the terms of the sale of units requiring that those repurposed as vacation rentals be done on a month-by-month basis, rather than week-by-week to avoid noise and other problems.
One resident challenged the project’s appropriateness in general.
“You’re not presenting anything here that’s an asset to this community,” he said. “You’re going to cause great difficulty for the community, and it’s not a project I’d like to see. Don’t tell me you aren’t maximizing profits.”
After the meeting, McGowan said developers will spend the next month making all necessary project submittals to the city.