La Jolla’s new Information Center ready to serve


By Ashley Mackin with Pat Sherman

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) opened the doors to the new La Jolla Village Information Center at 11 a.m. Jan. 9, though there is much still to come at the 1162 Prospect St. facility.

The walls are currently bare, but there is an information desk to serve visitors. The La Jolla Visitor Center booth, operated by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Center (ConVis) on Herschel Avenue, is now closed.

“Right now, the volunteers and staff members who are housing the front are going to be here daily, and we’re providing the brochure services and the consulting concierge services to anyone who shows up,” said Sheila Fortune, LJVMA executive director.

Only the front desk is open to the public, as the rest of the space — the remaining front area, conference room, back offices and flooring — is still under construction. The front room will see the installation of flat-screen televisions in the next few weeks to help with advertising and mimic what was seen at the La Jolla Visitor Center. Fortune said the contracts of existing ConVis advertisers would be honored.

There will also be computers for visitors to explore the Village Merchants Association website —

The computers and flat-screens were all donated. The conference room, once completed, will be a space for the merchants to meet. Fortune also said she hopes to create a “Lunch and Learn” program, where merchants can meet to discuss a predetermined, business-related topic over lunch.

The back offices will be the new working space for LJVMA members. The flooring had to be re-laid after the first floor was found to be defective.

Board President Phil Coller said LJVMA resolved to use the front windows and interior space to promote every non-profit group that benefits La Jolla. “Our issue is how do we do that ... not to benefit the individual organization, but to benefit the community.”

Fortune said the La Jolla Information Center should be complete in the next few months and a grand opening will be scheduled for March or April.

Though much of the office equipment was donated, getting the Center together has been and continues to be a struggle. Fortune said they are still accepting cash donations for finishing touches and operational needs.

At the Jan. 9 board meeting, Fortune said furniture and equipment is slow in coming and the LJVMA didn’t receive its usual funds from the city last month. “We’re still two or three weeks out from having even the minimum functionality,” she said. “If we don’t have cash, I can’t spend it.”

The LJVMA plans to apply for the grant ConVis formerly received to operate the former La Jolla Visitors Center on Herschel Avenue, though the merchants have yet to submit the application and the deadline is approaching.

The push to move and open the new Information Center, though the merchants association was not fully prepared, occurred because the lease on the former LJMVA offices expired at the end of 2012.

The original opening date was scheduled for Jan. 2, but due to issues with AT&T, Fortune said they could not connect the phone or Internet until the late afternoon of Friday, Jan. 4. But, Fortune wanted to emphasize, “We are officially open.”