Business owners and residents in Downtown Escondido are hoping a big development project will help revitalize the dated district.
The injection of energy could come once the old Palomar Hospital at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Valley Boulevard is demolished and replaced with residential and commercial buildings.
The 13.6-acre property was sold to one of the nation's largest homebuilders for $18 million nearly a year ago.
The developer, Integral Communities, has already submitted plans to demolish the hospital and replace it with 30 buildings that will include 450 residential units, and 5,500 square feet of commercial and office space.
Details of the plan still need to be ironed out and the City Council could approve it before the end of the year. That, plus the time it’d take to build, means nearby business owners might have to wait a few years before they see the increased foot traffic they’re hoping the development will bring.
Empty storefronts along Grand Avenue aren’t hard not to notice. Business owners on and near the strip said they are struggling to stay open because there simply aren't enough people who frequent the area.
"I think that it's very difficult for the fabric store to stay in business, I think it was hard for the bird store to stay in business,” local business owner Adrian Cervantes said. Cervantes thinks a transformation into more of an entertainment-centric neighborhood would benefit downtown Escondido.
"I think it needs to be upgraded a little, even if it's just taking the old and making it look new, so it has more style,” he said.
Former Escondido resident Jeanie Marshall said she knows people need a place to live, but isn’t that excited about the big residential project.
"It seems to me that a lot of the things that they have built in the last few years, it's all just condo after condo after condo,” Marshall said.
"I know that it's necessary,” she added, “But it could just be more interesting."
The majority of hospital services were moved from the old hospital to a new building to the west on Citracado Parkway, south of Auto Park Way and the remaining services still offered at the building will be moved in the next 15 months.