By Dave SchwabDevelopers of the former Simic Art Gallery space at 1205 Prospect St. insist the site is just being rehabbed for future use and neighbors’ fears that a new restaurant is going in there soon are unfounded.
But nearby residents point to ongoing construction work at 1205 Prospect, as well as valet parking being sought by Grand Parking LLC on behalf of Amaya La Jolla at 7979 Ivanhoe Ave., as evidence suggesting otherwise.
“It’s a long, narrow space and we’re making some improvements on the walls, ceilings and floors to get it in better shape for whatever tenant we end up having,” said Tom Voss, president of Manchester Resorts, which owns and is remodeling the former gallery site. “If I could tell you there was going to be a restaurant there, or an art gallery, an office or a bank — I would. I will tell you there is no definite plan for it.”
Manchester owns the high-end restaurant, Amaya, inside the Grand Del Mar resort in Carmel Valley.
Phil Wise, a commercial Realtor with Colliers International in La Jolla, confirmed there is no restaurant tenant lined up to go into the former Simic space, but restaurants are expressing interest.
“We’ve had some credible tenants, several restaurant groups, that we’ve talked to about the space in the past year but nothing has happened,” he said adding, “the market dictates a tenant.”
Wise said the current plan now by the Manchester interests is to expand the Simic Gallery’s 3,600 square feet of space. “They want to take one of the ground floor office spaces in the back and incorporate that into the 3,600 square feet that is being converted into a restaurant space making it larger,” he said. “We have told them it’s too large. We think the sweet spot is the smaller space, not the larger space.”
A neighbor immediately behind 1205 Prospect St. on Roslyn Lane, Leigh Hyman, caught wind of the prospect that the space is being converted for restaurant use, and has been actively lobbying La Jolla community advisory groups against such a move.
“This is a street (Roslyn) like an alley with residences and commercial at each end,” she said. “Roslyn is a one-way fire lane with a sign that says,
‘No stopping any time.’ You’re not supposed to get out and leave your car at all. Where would a restaurant located there get truck deliveries?”
Hyman’s next-door neighbor, John Alksne, said he would also oppose the site’s use as a restaurant. But more immediately, he’s concerned about the ongoing construction activity there.
“We got no notice whatsoever (about construction activity),” he said. “We just assumed if anything was going to happen there, there would be some kind of notice. They’ve closed the street and are totally indifferent to us. Already their dumpsters are across the red (fire) line and are blocking traffic a good part of the time without notifying anybody. It’s been very hard for residents getting in and out of our garages.”
Nate Sposato of Grand Parking LLC acknowledged that his company has applied for a 40-foot-wide passenger loading zone to be used for valet parking at a building at 7979 Ivanhoe Ave. on the front side of Prospect St., which would be open to the public from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Ryan Kiesel of Manchester Financial Group, denied that valet space is being sought for a new restaurant.
“There is no lease in place for that space,” Kiesel said. “We’re getting it (valet space) ready to lease it out to a potential tenant, whether it’s another art gallery or a restaurant.”
Sposato said further consideration of Grand Parking’s valet plan “has been put on hold until we get the master plan for valet parking on Prospect Street.”
Tom Brady, a member of both La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation Committee (T&T) and the La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA), said preliminary meetings are being held between members of both advisory groups and valet vendors to come up with a master plan for valet parking in the Village, which was requested recently by T&T. The committee said it doesn’t feel right approving additional requests for new valet space without having an overall plan for citing valet parking in the Village in place.
“Nobody has taken a position as to whether or not there’s too many valet spaces,” he said. “We need to have a comfort level that we’re doing the most efficient thing with valet parking proposed for all concerned — the applicants, the merchants, and the property owners.”
Brady added it’s the intent of groups meeting on the valet master plan to “have a framework of what we’re doing by the end of March.”
He said reports on valet master plan progress will likely be made at T&T’s March and April meetings, held the fourth Thursday of the month at 4 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center.