December 2012 Bay View Plaza: Now What?
By Seth Robinson
After years of being a blight on the entrance to Clairemont and Bay Park, Bay View Plaza has finally been torn down. The defunct shopping center had been host to a wide variety of stores and businesses through the years.
In recent history, developer CW Clark planned to build a mixed-use center anchored by a Frazier Farms grocery store. According to owner Craig Clark, after working on the property for roughly 13 years and three times even securing a permit to move forward, there was no financing for construction. Clark was forced to declare bankruptcy on the project.
In late 2011 a group of investors, American citizens based out of Egypt called Sa Marina LLC, purchased the property. It continued to sit vacant until early on the morning of November 7th 2012 when the first signs of imminent demolition became apparent with the arrival of an asbestos abatement crew. Almost immediately a buzz hit the neighborhood, fueling an explosion of questions on social media. Everyone was wondering the same thing: what is going to be done with the property?
The truth is nobody knows for sure yet. No plans have been submitted to the City and no timeline has been given for development. CW Clark's original plans called for a combination of retail, office space and condominiums, and the former leasing agent for the project, Bruce Schiff, seems to think the new owners intend to build something similar. Craig Clark, who said that CW Clark is managing the property now for the new owners, expects it to be 90 days or more before any plans are revealed or submitted to the City.
The future of Bay View Plaza is even more interesting when you take into consideration that SANDAG, the county’s regional transportation planning agency, will be extending the trolley system up to UCSD along Morena Blvd., and has planned a stop at Clairemont Dr., adjacent to the property.
Any plan to build will likely be submitted to the Clairemont Community Planning Group at some point to gather community feedback. While the property owners no doubt want to be successful by building a property that fits the needs of the community, they are not bound to incorporate the public’s ideas. Interested residents may learn all about the proposed project and have their say at Planning Group meetings when Bay View Plaza is on the agenda. Meetings are the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm at the LiveWell center, 4425 Bannock. The group’s agendas are published online on the City’s website, www.SanDiego.gov or you can receive agendas via email. Send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org (indicate Clairemont planning group).
Increased residential density here is expected to be controversial with the community. The outcry thus far via social media has been: no condos. Almost everyone has said they want more retail space with a specialty grocery store such as a Trader Joe's or Fresh and Easy. As it happens, Craig Clark owns a Trader Joe’s location, and he says this spot is too close to several other Trader stores for one to open here.
The property itself poses a few problems regardless of what is built there. It's fairly land- locked, with access from Clairemont Dr. only available from one direction. Unless the road median on Clairemont Dr. is rebuilt, most of the traffic entering the property would have to come from either Denver St. or Ingulf St. both of which are small city streets not designed to handle the traffic from a major shopping center.
For now everyone seems happy that progress of any kind has taken place at Bay View Plaza. Although we don't know what's coming next, it appears the excitement over the project has united the community in hopes that the Bay View Plaza property will once again be a welcoming sight for all who visit Clairemont and Bay Park.
Seth Robinson is a REALTOR and can be reached at email@example.com