City seeks input on rival development proposals for long-vacant property

Residents in and around Encanto have an opportunity to provide input on two redevelopment proposals for a vacant lot that’s poised to become a catalyst for economic and employment opportunities in southeastern San Diego.

The city launched an online open house this week to showcase two proposals for the Valencia Business Park: a healthcare center or a renewable energy business hub. Community members can weigh in on concepts through Oct. 14.

The 4.3-acre lot along Stevens Way and Imperial Avenue has been vacant for more than 20 years. City leaders anticipate that developing the land will create economic opportunities for the area, which is a federally designated promise zone.

“It will have an economic impact no matter what project is chosen, but it will also have an impact of pride for the surrounding areas,” said Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, who represents the neighborhood.

The two proposals differ in the vision for the area, with one focused on health care and the other on transforming the neighborhood into a hub for renewable energy organizations and businesses. Both proposals are required to create at least 72 jobs, with 51 percent of those new positions made available to low or moderate income individuals.

The San Diego American Indian Health Center, which serves San Diego’s American Indian and under-served populations, is working with healthcare real estate developer PMB.

Valencia Business Park

The proposal is focused on creating a wellness center that includes urgent care, primary care, dental and behavioral health programs. It would feature a 50,000-square-foot facility with parking and an outdoor space that could include a garden, green space or yoga lawn. The project’s estimated cost is $25 million.

Kevin LaChapelle, CEO of San Diego American Indian Health Center, said having a medical facility in the area will help address care gaps and create employment opportunities in healthcare for community members.

The San Diego Energy Equity Campus proposal would feature 40,000 square-feet for industrial space and 25,000 square-feet for office space. The proposal envisions the development of an equity campus that houses organizations and businesses in the sustainable energy field.

Demetre Booker Jr., co-managing partner for the San Diego Energy Equity Campus, said their proposal would create a new image for the area and focus on creating equity in sustainable energy.

“It will create and industry and a vision for the community,” said Booker Jr. “When you think Sorrento Valley, UTC you think of economic power, what this project will create will make southeast San Diego an economic power.”

The project’s estimated cost is $19 million.

Residents can provide input though the city’s virtual open house valenciabusinessparkinput.org.

The community feedback will help city officials decide which proposal to pursue, said Monica Hardman, assistant deputy director with the city’s Economic Development Department.

“It’s a historic opportunity to get a catalyst and transformative project in Encanto, so we want everyone to be involved,” Hardman said.

City staff will make a recommendation to the San Diego City Council following an evaluation of both proposals. After one is selected by the City Council, community members will have more opportunities to weigh in on the project, she said.

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