Height hiccup hits La Jolla’s Boffo cinemas

Fay Avenue theater complex still on track for late summer opening

The highly anticipated Boffo cinema complex, “The Lot,” at 7611 Fay Ave. (formerly Jonathan’s Market) is heading toward a possible late summer opening, following a minor setback the project developer was taking steps to correct last week.

In January, several people serving on La Jolla’s city advisory groups noted that construction of the exterior walls appeared to be exceeding the allowed height limit.

A joint inspection between a City of San Diego senior planner and senior structural inspector on Feb. 9 found the exterior walls of the existing building had been increased to a non-conforming height. The existing, 30-foot walls were increased by anywhere from 5 to 10 feet in certain areas, city spokesperson Lynda Pfeifer said, via e-mail.

“The addition to the existing walls was not shown on the plans and was not permitted,” Pfeifer said, noting that the applicant was instructed to “obtain a traffic control permit to ensure the safety of pedestrians on Fay Avenue prior to removal of the unpermitted walls” and to submit a structural plan change to show any required modifications, and that the existing underground parking garage would not be impacted.

During the Feb. 5 meeting of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, board president Joe LaCava said he spoke with project developer/owner Adolfo Fastlicht and felt he was operating “in good faith,” and the error could have been due, in part, to a height calculation in the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance, or blueprint for development.

Fastlicht said it was “a mistake made by the masons and the contractor,” adding that construction is otherwise progressing at a steady pace, despite detecting a considerable amount of asbestos in the building, which he had no prior knowledge of, and which had to be removed. The building is also being reinforced with steel to meet current code requirements, he said.

“We’re chugging along, progressing,” Fastlicht said. “I think the whole community is very excited. … Fortunately, everybody’s been very supportive and we’re excited about that.”

During the Feb. 5 LJCPA meeting, trustee Phil Merten suggested the LJCPA board possibly require project applicants to return to the LJCPA to present any changes in their project later approved by the city that expand the its scope. “Sometimes those changes … go way beyond what the community group may have had in mind,” Merten said.