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Girard Avenue/Wall Street renovation gets PDO approval as Phase 1 of La Jolla streetscape plan

A rendering presented depicts some of the improvements planned for Girard Avenue at Wall Street.
A rendering presented to the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee depicts some of the improvements planned for Girard Avenue at Wall Street.
(Courtesy of M.W. Steele Group)

As promised during the October Enhance La Jolla meeting, plans to renovate the Girard Avenue streetscape have started making the rounds to La Jolla’s community planning groups. The first presentation was Nov. 8 to the Planned District Ordinance Committee, which voted unanimously to support the first phase.

The streetscape plan is a $15 million project to renovate the area known as “The Dip” on Prospect Street and Girard Avenue to Silverado Street. Planned street improvements in the public right of way include curb extensions, paving, landscaping, lighting, conversion of northbound Prospect from Girard to Herschel Avenue as a public pedestrian way and converting the southbound side of Prospect in that area to two-way traffic.

Applicant representative Mark Steele, founder of architecture and planning firm M.W. Steele Group, said the project has been sponsored by the La Jolla Community Foundation and Enhance La Jolla, which administers the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District. The project is considered to have “pretty general design concepts” that have not been “fully refined,” he said.

Foundation Chairwoman Phyllis Pfeiffer, who also is president and general manager of the La Jolla Light, told the Enhance La Jolla board in October that about $1.5 million was already available to complete one of the four phases of the project.

The four phases include creating a plaza at The Dip on Prospect Street, establishing a midblock crossing in the 7800 block of Girard Avenue, adding landscaping and pop-outs in an effort to improve the pedestrian experience on Girard at Silverado Street, and renovating the intersection of Girard and Wall Street. Throughout the four phases, there are plans for improved landscaping, additional benches and lighting and artistic elements.

“The goal of it all is to beautify and make it more pedestrian-centered and create the kind of curb extensions you see now in places like Bird Rock. It creates a sense of character,” Steele said.

The Girard/Wall renovation is expected to be done first due to funding availability and because it would “set the pace” for other phases, Steele said. There is no secured order for the other phases.

Overhead plans presented to the Planned District Ordinance committee for Girard Avenue and Wall Street.
Overhead plans presented to the Planned District Ordinance Committee outline changes at the intersection of Girard Avenue and Wall Street.
(Courtesy of M.W. Steele Group)

The renovation would include curb pop-outs and improved crosswalks to “create a nice plaza at the Arcade Building” and “create a plaza space for the whole intersection,” as well as a possible artistic installation in the pavement, Steele said.

Design, engineering, permitting and construction would take about a year, with six months of that being actual construction. General contractor Terry Arnett said the construction likely would not take place in the summer, though the schedule has not been determined.

PDO Committee member Andy Fotsch said “looking at the pedestrian experience and the streetscape in La Jolla is definitely something that needs to be done. … I think this is a teaser for what can be possible in the whole Village.”

Several had questions about The Dip phase of the project, planned for the area fronting restaurants such as Jose’s and The Spot. It would create a Village plaza with a trellis or an artistic element, seating and open space.

“It will be a catalyst for socializing and we hope it will be a place that The Village can get together,” Steele said, adding that it could host programs or musicians.

PDO Chairwoman Deborah Marengo asked whether restaurants on Prospect had been polled to gauge their support of that phase. Given the preliminary nature of the project, the plan “isn’t there yet,” Steele said, though he added it would be brought up for consideration.

Additional questions were posed about trash pickup, maintenance, disabled access and more at The Dip.

A motion passed to support the Wall Street/Girard Avenue phase of the project, with a request that the applicant return for approval of subsequent phases as construction gets closer.

The PDO Committee reviews development applications in the parts of La Jolla regulated by the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance, or blueprint for development.

The streetscape plans will proceed to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board, which next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, online. Learn more at lajollacpa.org. ◆