Four Single Family Units Going in at Santa Monica and Ebers – at Former Children’s Energy Center

by on January 18, 2013 · 3 comments

in Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

OB SantaMonEbers dirtgood There’s only a giant mound of dirt there now, but that old blue building at the intersection of Santa Monica Avenue and Ebers Street – recently demolished – is being replaced by four single-story and single family residences – each with a garage.

OB SantaMonEbers machineThe units will be 65 feet by 18 feet, for a total of less than 1200 square feet, but with the 20 by 20 garages, accessible off the alley, there’s another 400 sf.

The new owner and developer, CG Alan Development, is reportedly making the units rentals, not condos as a previous owner had planed.

The finished project will take another 7 to 10 months, I was told by an on-site engineer the other day when I dropped by. Mike Freitas, the dirt engineer, he told me, actually lives in Ocean Beach, just down Ebers at Muir. Mike grew up in OB, a 1999 graduate of Point Loma High, and works for a demolition outfit, AMG Demolition. While we spoke, an AMG front loader was moving and digging around the huge dirt pit that had been created. He’ll be on site just for another week, Mike said.

OB SantaMonEbers Engineer

That’s Mike Frietas, outside the fence, speaking with other workers.  (All photos by Frank Gormlie.)

The new houses, once built, will be slightly elevated from each other as there is a slope on that 4600 block of Santa Monica – roughly 2 and a half feet elevation between them. I looked at the plans briefly as Mike held them up studying the numbers, and the units all appear to be planned in a row up the hill, with the third one slightly set back.

Frietas didn’t think they’d be condos, or condo-ized. This could be good news, I thought. This was a change to the plans for the site made by one of the previous owners, after the last occupant – the Children’s Energy Center- had been kicked out in 2006 without warning to staff or parents, after being located there for many years.

There had been some controversy around the Center being closed, and then with the building fixed up in anticipation of reaping mucho profts during the housing bubble, … but the building sat there for years, unsold, unused.  Only recently was the place sold within the last several months and the old Center’s buildings demolished.


The old Children’s Energy Center.

Four years ago, I wrote a piece about the closing of the Energy Center and the shenanigans of the various owners.  Here’s part of what I said then:

Anyone who has lived in Ocean Beach for any length of time remembers the old Children’s Energy Center, a sprawling blue single-story building with a large playground in the backyard.  Raised off the street level a bit along Ebers, it sits directly across from the OB Child Care Center and OB Elementary playing fields.

It was usually full of kids, for after all, it was a child care center itself, serving kids from 2 to 10 years of age.  For years.

Well, the kids were all kicked out three years ago [in 2006] – and it appears all for greed.  For ever since, the property and building have remained vacant. The place changed owners and the new owner thought he could make a quick buck or two.  So he closed the Center, made some improvements, and put it up for sale.  … Well, It never sold.

This is the sad and shameful story of how greed overcame good common sense, turned out the children and closed a center that has functioned as a needed community resource for 26 years, all to end in stupidity.

The former Children’s Energy Center, at 4689 Santa Monica Avenue, is back up for sale – this time for the third time.

 The former administrator for the Energy Center was Chris Yule, who told me then in 2009 about the then owner – Thomas Funke- and his motives for closing the center down:

Bottom line the place closed because the owner needed monies for his other real estate purchases. It was a real shame for it to close down, then be fixed up, and then sit empty for three years,we could have been teaching kids for those three years.”

Before the Children’s Energy Center was at that site, it had been owned by Margarate Franklin in the late 1970s, and was run as the Playhouse Nursery School. So, the site has been a long, historical part of the area of Ocean Beach dedicated to the community’s children.

And now four homes were going in. And the renters who will lease the homes will enjoy the site, very near the center of the village.

One last point: when I spoke to Chris Yule 4 years ago, she mentioned that she believed that one of the structures that made up the Center had some interesting history to it.  It had been at one time, supposedly, part of the old mess hall up at Camp Elliot, and been moved down to Ocean Beach many moons ago.  Any OB historian have any info on that aspect?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page January 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

The previous development that was proposed for the site involved four units but in order to get all four, the developer needed a considerable variance on the Ebers Street side setback and did not get it. I was under the impression the project did not go because they could not get the fourth unit. Now the project is buildng four units. I’m wondering if the City has now allowed the variance. But, I also seem to recall the original width dimension was 25 feet. If it is now 18 feet, that may have solved the problem. It would still be a good idea to see it this is what happened or if the City allowed the variance. Maybe the OBPB can answer that one.


Frank Gormlie January 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm

They’ll certainly be narrow units. I saw the plans and the numbers. I second your request Geoff to have a member of the OBPB fill us in.


Frank Gormlie January 19, 2013 at 11:08 am

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous has sent the following:

“The Santa Monica corner site did have a building moved onto it and it became the
Boy Scout center, in OB. My Dad was a carpenter and a scout leader for our Explorer’s post. He did volunteer work to get it ready after the move.

Memory is not as good as it used to be but the 1955-56 time frame matches up with what I remember.

Our troop and post were sponsored by the Kiwanas (sp) and could be a source of history regarding the building.”


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