Escondido, CA

Long awaited projects finally come to fruition

This has been a good month. Escondido had ribbon cutting ceremonies at two looooong awaited projects. We’re talking a couple of decades in waiting. The first was a first class hotel in the La Terraza development adjacent to I-15 between Valley Parkway and 9th Avenue. 

As a Planning Commission member in the late ‘90’s we approved the much ballyhooed development which included a hotel and a sit-down restaurant and other office uses. We finally have the hotel but the restaurant site was taken by an Infinity auto dealership. OK, one for two not bad. As you may recall, the AAA building was built first and stood as an only child for many years.

The neighbors living in Howell Heights above La Terraza were very much involved in the eventual design being concerned with the height of the buildings and other aesthetics such as concealing HVAC equipment on the rooftops. I had the pleasure of meeting with the chief advocate and spokesperson, the late Sue Coombs and the other residents many times. They were a great example of positive community involvement.

The Marriott brand Springhill Suites was a very well attended event even though the hotel actually opened in May. The next ribbon cutting was at the Quality Inn on Centre City Parkway which consisted of a major overhaul of the Mt. Vernon Inn. Good riddance to one of the biggest eyesores in Escondido and the site of too many calls for service to the Escondido Police Department. When I moved here in 1973 the Mt. Vernon Inn was Escondido’s premier hotel (actually by definition a motel since it does not have interior room entries). It was up for auction about 20 years ago and there were a few rooms open for inspection. You couldn’t pay me to stay one minute in a room there and it didn’t get any better.

Both of these new hotels offer needed rooms for performers at the Center for the Arts staying in town rather than going to RB or San Diego and the teams playing in major soccer tournaments held at Ryan Park every year. We also host major softball tournaments at Kit Carson Park drawing teams from around the state. And let us not forget the much appreciated additional TOT, Transient Occupancy Tax and sales tax revenue from the guests as they spend more time in Escondido dining and shopping.

And now something good to say about our Regional Planning Organization the San Diego Association of Governments, SANDAG. They have teamed up with the US Navy and the Airport Authority proposing a grandiose plan for a Grand Central Station near Lindbergh Field. I don’t know where the money will come from but if San Diego is to maintain its status as a premier destination along with the convention center expansion and SDSU West project this is the type of visioning that is needed. Something iconic such as the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge—you get the picture.

When I served on the North County Transit District Board former Vista Councilman Bob Campbell in 2006 spoke about having such a hub to create a more efficient way to get passengers to and from the airport and at the same time reducing vehicle traffic on specifically I-5 and also reducing the traffic congestion along Harbor Drive. Numerous discussions have been held by all agencies since then and now we have something to sink our teeth into. Let the gnashing begin.

The negative comments have already begun with one comment I heard about the people mover and the tunnel under the runway. These are not new concepts as airports in other cities already employ both. Not to sound trite but if you want to play with the big boys you have to, as Emeril Lagasse says, kick it up a notch.  

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

7 responses to “Long awaited projects finally come to fruition”

  1. SoCal Bakerman says:

    While I agree the Springhill Suits is better than a vacant field and Quality Inn is better than the Mt. Vernon Inn, I will disagree that this is a something to celebrate. Every other city can’t build enough commercial properties or town home properties, we in Escondido celebrate low rent motels that will cater to Prostitutes and Transients and discounters like Ross as indications that we are on the move. Really? Escondido has so much potential, but we always approve car washes, motels and discounters instead of real quality developments that will improve our city. Drive down East Valley; if you are waiting for Walmart to save you, good luck. I am sorry Escondido, we are not a farm town anymore, get over it; we are a CITY with a 150K people. Capitals in the midwest have less people. Embrace the change, upgrade our taste, stop with the car washes and motels.

    • Aubrey Stillwell says:

      Yes! We are the arm pit of North County.

    • Aiden says:

      I agree with you.This City has deteriorated.Drive down GRAND AVENUE..lits of boarded Restos or stores..Keep driving to East Valley Parkway….looks like I’m in Tijuana..lots of .Mexican Signage.
      A friend from East Coast wants to move to San Diego .eyeing ESCONDIDO. I suggested NO!.Try Rancho Bernardo it Penaquitos or Carlsbad…But never ESCONDIDO.
      The only imposing nice one is that Big Hospital called Palomar…But I heard it is a nice building but poorly,managed hospital.Thank goodness Kaiser is using it …otherwise,it will go bankrupt too.

    • Shannon says:

      Yep, and we need to being back a Bowling Alley and a Skating Rink for the kids. Escondido has nothing but .99 cent stores and Taco Shops on every corner with the Prostitutes !

  2. springhill suites and quality inn are not low rent hotels. And the location of springhill is definitely going to attract professionals and business minded individuals
    Fact is people will complain and fight development. New Urban West a Prime developer faced several years of harassment and the community of the former Golf Club had so much misinformation shoved down their throat creating continual blocking of one of the better developments in our city. The group that continued to push the misinformation .. ECCHO … misrepresented data like size of homes, number of homes, plans of homes, and types of homes being built.
    One of the bigger Naysyers and blockers of the development were Masson and Abed… who fyi had approved 800 homes to be built on the former Golf course if New Urban had decided to bail admist all the chaos

    Seriously.. This cost our city, the home owners present and future, and developers. Why. What were their motives? Why did they join forces with ECCHO to boycott one of the better developments in Escondido?

    Gallo, thank you for your continued support and affirmative direction in the growth of Escondido. We appreciate your dedication to our city

    • HomeGirl says:

      Can we say “squirrel”! An off topic rant by a real estate agent over an out of place, done-deal residential development in a retirement neighborhood. How do you feel about the new hotel over-looking the freeway?

  3. Christopher McBrearty says:

    I sure do see plenty of may sayers here.

    FYI, our downtown is revitalizing. All the ‘boarded up’ building grand are actually being remodeled. These aren’t going to be .99 cent stores, they’re high end restaurants and boutiques. A high end Japanese restaurant, 3 tap rooms, Barrell Republic, a very high end middle eastern establishment, Vincent’s is in the middle of a remodel….the list continues. Nearly every block on grand has a plan.

    East Valley Parkeay is open to new projects as well as Escondido Blvd, 2nd Ave and Center City.

    There are over 1100 new housing units already approved with Escondido already committed to 5400 total new homes by 2025.

    Get involved, help change our status because we are going to be a different place in 5 years.

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