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Redevelopment projects in downtown, Coronado, moving forward despite funding problems

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Between the city of San Diego and its neighbor across the bay Coronado, the central region of San Diego County has put redevelopment dollars to work.

There are about 67 redevelopment projects either under way, or in various stages of planning in the two cities, ranging from infrastructure work to revitalizing schools.

A cloud of uncertainty, however, hangs over all these projects, as the state may be taking redevelopment funding from municipalities and redistributing it to plug California's budget. Cities, towns and counties heard on Aug. 1 how much money they need to hand over to Sacramento. Due to that, some projects will likely be trimmed or canceled.

The League of California Cities is suing to stop the state and preserve redevelopment on a local level, but the outcome of that suit is uncertain.

Projects that are under way are unlikely to see the affects of any funding redistribution, but redevelopment agencies stressed that nothing is certain.

In most cities, the redevelopment agency consists mainly of the City Council and the mayor. In San Diego, after the redevelopment agency approves a project, it is then managed by one of the city's redevelopment arms, the biggest being the Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC) in downtown and the Southeastern Development Corp. (SEDC) in areas more toward the South Bay.

Some of the bigger projects under way from CCDC include the Hotel Sandford, a four-story building that includes a 130-unit single room occupancy residential hotel providing affordable housing for low income seniors. The building will also include 11,000 square feet of commercial space.

The San Diego Housing Commission is developing the space, which was originally constructed in 1914. The project is taking in about $6 million in redevelopment subsidies and is scheduled for completion in March 2012.

CCDC is also providing some funding for the downtown library, which is under construction and scheduled for completion in summer 2013.

Another major project is the 150-bed transitional housing facility that St. Vincent de Paul is developing on the corner of 15th and Commercial streets in the East Village. That's scheduled for completion in December 2012.

The North Embarcadero Visionary Plan is a major project for CCDC, and has been in the works since 1997. The project would create an esplanade along the water and create 17 acres of open space. Some infrastructure has already gone into that.

The Cedar Gateway project is an affordable housing development with 42 rental units and 23 supportive housing units for people with special needs. It is located on a 23,000-square-foot site in the Cortez neighborhood.

CCDC is also helping to build a Quiet Zone in downtown San Diego, improving safety at rail crossings and putting in infrastructure to reduce rail noise.

The Horton Plaza Park project won't be completed until 2013 but has received positive attention. That project will revamp the plaza near the shopping center that faces Broadway.

CCDC is involved in the revitalization of the World Trade Center as well.

The biggest projects for SEDC include Comm 22, a major family and senior housing facility, a family apartment complex called NW Village, and the Vista Grande Apartments.

In order for a redevelopment agency to get involved with a housing project, at least some of the units have to be designated as affordable housing, which is the case here. Comm 22, located at 2200 Commercial Ave., is scheduled to have about 200 affordable housing units. Construction will begin on infrastructure early next year, and on housing by September 2012.

NW Village Residential is a 153-unit family apartment building with 149 affordable apartments. Located in Village Center at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Market Street, the project is still in the permitting process.

The Vista Grande Apartments are 98 percent complete. Located on a 3.1-acre site on Santa Margarita Street, the complex is nearly all affordable, with a total of 49 units.

SEDC is working to build a very large housing complex with 7,000 units in the Gateway Center West area, but the original developer closed business, and a replacement is being sought. Other projects are in similar states of uncertainty.

SEDC also has a number of capital improvement projects under way, rebuilding infrastructure in areas like Southcrest in hopes of attracting developers.

As one of the bigger cities though, San Diego received one of the biggest bills from the state. It must pay $69.8 million this year and $16 million in subsequent years.

For such a small community, Coronado has big plans for its redevelopment dollars. According to the city's five-year implementation plan, there are about 20 housing, education and commerce-oriented projects the city would like to undertake, adding up to nearly $42 million.

Like with every city though, most of Coronado's plans are uncertain, due to the state's potential actions. They have been asked to return $3.8 million to the state this year. It was unclear what subsequent payments could be.

The Crown City would like to put more than $16 million into Coronado Hospital, including a $10 million capital project program to renovate the facility over the next three years. There is also a plan to purchase about $6.7 million in land for the hospital. These are both in conjunction with the Coronado Hospital Foundation.

On a more recreational side, the city would like to complete a third phase of its downtown enhancement project, fixing streets and sidewalks along Orange Avenue, and provide a boat house and club room as part of the Glorietta Bay Civic Center and Promenade Project. There are also hopes to replace one of the docks on that project. Those projects would total more than $4.5 million.

Part of Coronado's five-year redevelopment plan includes about $7 million in education spending. The would include construction and improvements to the Strand Elementary School, Village Elementary School, Coronado Middle School, Coronado High School, Palm Academy, early childhood development center and the school sports complex.

The town would like to put about $6 million into affordable housing.

All of these projects, if possible, would be completed or at least under way by 2014, but it is unclear how many -- if any -- can go forward. Redevelopment agencies might not know until the fall which projects they can afford to continue funding.

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