Changes in Ocean Beach: Businesses Moving Within, Houses Going Up and Parking Lot Closed

by on February 1, 2013 · 18 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

OB Around OB 1-30-13 AppTree 3

Roses left on the fence surrounding the old Apple Tree Market and the parking lot. (All photos by Frank Gormlie)

There are several signs around Ocean Beach that speak to changes occurring in our little village, some of which show a level of  economic rejuvenation – homes are being built from scratch and businesses are moving instead of closing down. These are positive changes for OB.

Of course, not all the changes are positive. Have you seen the fenced off parking lot next to the old Apple Tree? Have you seen the latest example of gentrification in northwest OB?

Homes are coming in.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 StaMondirt Santa Monica and Ebers

Case in point: the four new houses being built at the corner of Ebers and Santa Monica. The different grades have been developed – each house has a 2+ foot rise in ground elevation as there is a slope to that block going up Santa Monica. The good news is that these are supposed to be rentals.

And on Newport Avenue, several businesses are moving within OB instead of closing down. For instance, the OB Surf and Skate Shop is splitting into two different places but is holding together as a business.  Plus, one of OB’s faves, COW, has moved across the street instead of folding. Another business is celebrating its 20th anniversary and yet another business is just trying to get off the ground by having a booth during Farmer’s Market.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Surfn 1OB Surf and Skate Shop

Yes, the surf/ skate shop has to move out of its building (2nd move in several years, unfortunately) due to the building’s owner wanting to take it over for a market. Greg – one of the clerks at the shop – told me that the business is splitting into two facilities: one part, “Ocean Experience” – the learn-to-surf part – is moving to the old Mission Electronics building on Niagara Avenue, a block away.  It will sub-let space to Combat Academy, which currently has a room inside the shop (in the old vault area).  The surf boards and SUP’s will go there also.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 surfn 2The other part of the business, the retail – the “soft stuff” – will be transferred down the street to the shell shop. And for right now, because of the move, the Surf shop is having a major sale, with 50% off clothing, and good deals on the hard stuff. They’ll probably move sometime between now and March.

The building the surf shop is moving out of used to be Rock, Paper, Scissors and before that the Bank of America. The Apple Tree Market owner was evicted and has pledged to open another market in his edifice on Newport Avenue.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Cow2COW Moved Across the Street – BBQ House to Expand

COW, OB’s favorite vinyl and music shop has emptied where it was and has taken up residence across the street, at 5040 Newport.  This move has been coming for a while, but we’re just glad to see that the business stayed on Newport and at least in OB.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Cow3COW had to move as the BBQ House next door is expanding.  They only lost 5 hours due to the move, a clerk told me, when they made the switch about 2 weeks ago.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Cow4And OB’s favorite barbeque place – BBQ House – will be expanding its dining area, adding many new tables. Abdul, the owner of the restaurant has already gutted the old COW.

Abdul’s has had his plans for over a year. Just a little over a decade ago, the BBQ establishment was a hole in the wall tiny place within the old Strand building.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Cow5Yet, when it moved across the street, it had so many fans that the OB Planning Board waived certain parking requirements.  And now with this large addition, the BBQ House will be moving up to high bar being created by OB restaurants.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Blkbd 1Black Bead Celebrates 20 Years With a Party

Another favorite shop of OBceans is the Black Bead, two doors down from Bacon Street along Newport Ave. The Black Bead has been in OB for 20 years now and is celebrating its anniversary with a party this Saturday, Feb 2nd, from 10:30 to 7pm. There will be cake and refreshments and everyone is invited.

Lynn Muhlenkord owns the store, and with the help of her 3 employees has turned the place into a “must-shop” business if you are into beads of any kind, size, or shape. People from all over San Diego come here.  A couple of her people have been there for 5 years plus, always a good sign.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Blkbd2The Black Bead broke away from The Black, next door, 2 decades ago, as it used to be a counter within the larger store.  Lynn used to be married to its owner Kurt Kornbusch, but they were divorced 6 years ago, after a marriage of 15 years.

Growing up in Wisconsin, Lynn had moved to Ft Collins in Colorado. She then moved to OB in 1987, and met Kurt 3 months after moving here.

She invites everyone to drop by on Saturday, as there will be discounts of 20%.

OB’s Center Deadened with Closing of Apple Tree Parking Lot

OB Around OB 1-30-13 AppTree 1Meanwhile, the center of OB has been deadened by the closing of Apple Tree Market and the fencing off of a half a block of parking.  The flower stand and the coffee hut both had to move as well (if anyone knows where they went, leave a comment).

Now – parking – even paid parking – has been drastically curtailed in the center of town due to the fencing off of OB’s main parking lot. How is the closure of this lot affecting traffic and parking elsewhere across OB’s main business district?

OB Around OB 1-30-13 AppTree 2Parking used to be free in this huge lot, but at some point paid was implemented and was seriously monitored.  This always left a sour taste in many locals mouths. Yet, one has to wonder: why wasn’t the paid parking left? Is it fenced off in order to allow any potential buyer or lessor to grasp its enormity and potential for development? Or was it simply an issue of liability, that the owner of the property didn’t want to risk any while the building is closed?

Plus, what’s the fate of the three artist mural on the side of the former Apple Tree? So many questions.  Yet, it seems, the market itself – even though it served many who live in and around the center of the village – had so many critics that many OBceans were not sorry to see it close.

 On the Frontlines of Gentrification in OB on West Point Loma Blvd.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 WPtLoma

New construction at 5144 West Pt Loma.

Across OB – over in the northwest sector, the process of gentrification slowly grinds away.  A large, 3-story single family house is going up along the 5100 block of West Pt Loma, right next to the first huge house built in the immediate neighborhood on that side of the street.

This is the frontlines of gentrification in Ocean Beach right now, a process that removes one class of people and brings in a higher class as the old housing structures are demolished with new ones built, new housing that the former class cannot afford.

Shout-out to OB Ragster-turned Farmers Marketeer

OB Around OB 1-30-13 Brenda 2

Ann Marie and Brenda.

Finally, the OB Rag wants to give a shout-out to one of our former writers and bloggers, Brenda McFarland, who has recently opened her own business, Body Brew, and is usually seen at OB’s Farmers Market on Wednesdays.

OB Around OB 1-30-13 brenda 1Brenda and her friend, Ann Marie, are trying to make it work with an organic body deodorant business, and has an array of products that they make themselves.  We wish them the best.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler February 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I really don’t see the issue with the new condos being put up at Santa Monica and Ebers, regardless of whether they are rentals or not.


gailpowell February 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Do not know about the flower shop but Pirate’s Cove Coffee will be moved down the street soon into the parking lot behind the James Gang. I was also told by a business owner that the property manager fenced off the lot because they didn’t want it to become a homeless campsite full of people living in their cars.


OB Jamie February 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Yeah Gail that would have lasted about 30 seconds? And it sounds to me if you are living in your car you have a home, your car. Or motor home.


Catherine February 1, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I also don’t see the big issue with condos vs. rentals. Condos create opportunity for ownership among middle class people who might never otherwise have the opportunity. I realize there needs to be a balance, but I think there is a shortage of affordable housing to buy in OB. Condos can serve a role there.


Derek February 3, 2013 at 6:39 am

Cat, do you actually think ANY new housing in OB will be affordably priced!? I can not believe anything that close to the ocean would be in any middle class price range… The only way a middle classer can own a part of the beach community is through inheritance.


Frank Gormlie February 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

The big thing with rentals and condos is that OB is still primarily a rental community, with 6 out of 7 residents renting. So, the new units being built can help with that market. Condos are okay, but San Diego has been inundated with them over the decades. And they have their limitations.

OB is still one of the last coastal neighborhoods where modest-income people can reside. Plenty of middle-class families have purchased homes here since the 1970s, but the housing bubble did run rampant in OB.


Frank Gormlie February 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Justin Powell, in a post in the Reader, says:

According to a recent story in the Peninsula Beacon, Pirates Cove owner Robert Domczyk said the new location of the business “will be a parking lot in the 4900 block of Santa Monica Avenue on the east side of James Gang Printing.”

However, it will be a brand-new coffee cart: “The iconic [pirate] ship won’t make the voyage because it lacks the number of required sinks,” Domczyk said.


Smitty February 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I’m probably going to date myself here, but I remember when the Safeway/Alpha-Beta was being built back in 1962. I don’t remember what was there before, but in any case, I hope the building isn’t torn down. Not many interesting buildings like it around.


Frank Gormlie February 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

Thanks Smitty – you actually date me, even tho’ I arrive on the Point in early 1961 ; there is some interest in the architecture of that building. May not be enough to save it, however the owner told me he didn’t plan to demolish it. He’s waiting to lease it.


terie February 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

I grew up in OB in the fifties and the Safeway used to be on the corner of Newport across from Myers and Stuart mobile station and where the Appletree was, used to be a doctors and dentist office with a big park…


JR February 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm

What happened to El Rodeo?


Frank Gormlie February 2, 2013 at 10:24 am

JR – El Rodeo closed and a new place is going in at that location. Here’s what we said back in December:

New “Newport Avenue Yacht Club” to Open at the Old El Rodeo

When I walked past the old El Rodeo Mexican place, the fastfood institution below Ace Tattoo, I was in shock – it was gone. Yet there were spanking brand new wrap-around wood benches outfront so I stopped and spoke by phone with the owner of a new place going in. John Rudolph is opening a new place, a sandwich shop that will sell fish tacos, fish salad, and soups. El Rodeo closed about 3 weeks ago, and Rudolph has people inside cleaning up and setting up his new establishment. He plans to call it the “Newport Avenue Yacht Club” and will only have 4 to 5 main items on its menu. Those new benches that John had built sure are sparkling neat.


Goatskull February 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm

That sucks:( I liked El Rodeo.


Tyler February 4, 2013 at 11:22 am

Great news. El Rodeo was terrible.


OB Jamie February 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Your information clashes with another news source that cited a Fish taco place from PB expanding into El Outisdo’s (my nic, bestowed years ago. Sucks! loved that place and owner) old spot. I forget the name now. Sorry.


Debbie February 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I will be interested to see what the new units look like on Ebers. Hopefully they will have some character and give the owners a nice place to live and enjoy.


richard thomson February 2, 2013 at 9:49 am

So what is to miss about the Apple Tree? The expired food? The rude owners? The countless drunk and drugged homeless? Good riddance!


John February 2, 2013 at 10:22 am

So is the Apple Tree really becoming a Foodland IGA?

That’s what the first paragraph in the reader article says.

Seems worth mentioning.


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