Construction has finally begun on the 28-unit project called the Upper Voltaire Mixed Use – situated on that one-acre triangular-shaped lot along Voltaire Street (where Dominos once stood) just west of Wabaska, overlooking Nimitz Boulevard below.
If one peaks over the construction fence, you can see the lot is beginning its transformation into a site for 28 two and three storied townhouses, and half a dozen retail units in the project, which is being managed by Mike Stevens.
Here is how we reported on the Upper Voltaire Project in late April 2015 :
Designed to bring in “quality townhome residences”, the units will include 2 or 3 bedrooms with an average of 1,450 square feet. 17 of them will be 3-stories and eleven are 2-stories that will rest over retail storefronts. All the planned units will have a deck, and some will have two, plus garage spaces.
The project will include 6 buildings, with 3 of them having street-level retail spaces along Voltaire Street. Parking for commercial customers is a separate, at-grade parking lot behind the stores. The mixed use project has been delayed for numerous reasons, and was originally scheduled for grading, shoring and off-site improvement work during the summer of 2012.
We reported back then, that “The vertical construction was planned to be finished by mid-2013” and a year and half ago surmised that there must have been a delay of two years. Now, it appears to have been a delay of of over 3 years.
The Project has a website and the website states:
All dwellings have one or two outside decks, 2+ parking spaces and a secure storage room in the garage. Two elevators access the garage, ground-level outdoor common areas and mid-level residential entries. Gated driveways exit the garage onto either Voltaire St. or Whittier Street (one-block from Catalina Blvd.).
All residences will be sold at full market rate – the City’s affordable housing requirements are satisfied by payment of an in-lieu fee at building permit issuance.
The project boasts of having “garnered unanimous approvals by both the City Planning Commission and San Diego City Council,” and states that “the project site was designated a ‘Smart Growth’ location on SANDAG’s City of Villages Regional Plan.”
It looks like local residents – some of whom remain very critical of this project (see below) – will need to anticipate increased traffic in that entire area, due in part to this new project. The project is within the purvey of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.
The project web site actually said that the project was “In full conformance with zoning and all goals of the Peninsula Community Plan. I will say that the Peninsula Community Planning Board did not agree.
This project was appealed at each level and none of the appeals were successful. This overly dense project will dump most of the traffic onto dead end Whittier St. with the only exit being Famosa Blvd between Voltaire and Nimitz. We showed the city that the Level of Service (LOS) for Famosa was the lowest possible grade; the street was way beyond capacity. This fell on deaf ears. Traffic will also come in and out of Voltaire just east of Catalina, another street with a very low LOS rating. Also fell on deaf ears.
I spent several days taking pictures of backed up traffic on Voltaire, Catalina, and Famosa and presented this in a Power Point presentation to the city to no avail. … We pointed out that there were several developments planned for these same blocks, another only slightly smaller one was approved across the street from this one. We asked the city to do a comprehensive traffic study to take in all the proposed projects. Nothing.
But, the developer, Mike Stevens, said he was putting in bike racks and everyone thought that was just swell. Brace yourselves everyone who uses this intersection, it’s going to get a lot worse.
This is going to be a disaster for the neighborhood. The only street access will be through two of the most congested streets in the neighborhood: Famosa at Whittier and Voltaire at San Clemente. I cannot imagine any changes to these streets to ease access to these units that would not make the congestion even worse.
Whittier has a stop sign at Famosa/Catalina. That stretch of Famosa and Catalina between Nimitz and Voltaire is a main access road in and out of Point Loma for residents and commuters. Traffic already backs up from the light at Voltaire and down the exit ramp from Nimitz. Drivers turning left from Whittier Street have the lowest right-of-way at that intersection.
There is currently a center island on Voltaire at the proposed driveway location, so the driveway could only be entered from or exited to westbound Voltaire. If that island were to be removed, good luck turning left at rush hour. During the afternoon rush hour, traffic on westbound Voltaire backs up through the light at Wabaska and across the bridge over Nimitz. The light at Wabaska turns green and there is no place to go. That is partly because Voltaire narrows down from two lanes to one approaching Catalina. It is also because there are just too many cars and not enough road to handle them. …
It seems like developers are hell bent on turning Voltaire Street into a narrow canyon with 30 foot vertical walls on both sides, and traffic at a standstill. In keeping with tradition, our city government gives its rubber stamp to the whims of developers, regardless of the effects on the community.