This article originally appeared in the SD Reader
Business relocations and apartment projects
A couple of years ago the rundown section of El Cajon Boulevard in University Heights began a slow journey to rejuvenation. Construction crews have recently picked up the pace.
The largest residential project in the immediate area is BLVD, a mixed-use development at 2030 El Cajon Boulevard (at Florida Street). It was designed by FoundationForForm, also the architecture firm for Eitol, now under construction on University Avenue in Hillcrest.
Developer H.G. Fenton Co. came under fire last year from activists in the LGBT community and Save Our Heritage Organisation when the old Bernie Michels-Thom Carey house on the corner was demolished. The building included a space where activists in the early 1970s did initial planning for what was to eventually become The Center in Hillcrest.
BLVD will have 165 apartment units: 80 one-bedroom and 85 two-bedroom units, and about 4000 square feet of street-facing restaurant and retail space. A 30-unit building will be located in the back of the property. Fourteen units will be designated affordable. Completion is planned for spring 2018.
Exotic Gardens, a cactus-and-succulent business, was previously located at 2212 El Cajon Boulevard, across from the Lafayette Hotel. Now that location has a new apartment development owned by Exotic Gardens LP, to be built by Murfey Construction. Ben Longwell, vice president for leasing, acquisitions, and development at Boardwalk Development, Inc., is the project spokesperson. He said he couldn’t discuss details at this time.
Another apartment project is under construction at 2129 El Cajon Boulevard, between Monarch U-Haul and Pizzeria Luigi. Owned by the Evelyn El Cajon LLC, it will consist of four one-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units, with 21 parking spaces. According to the City of San Diego’s Development Services Department, “the twelve units proposed on the 0.24-acre site create a density of 48 dwelling units per acre.” Murfey Construction is also the contractor.
Meanwhile, Awash Market & Ethiopian Restaurant is still slated to take over a former storefront-church at 2104 El Cajon Boulevard. The grocery/eatery is currently at 2884 El Cajon Boulevard in North Park. The ownership plans to be in the new location by early 2017.
The newest business in the area is a Dunn-Edwards Paints outlet at the former Blockbuster Video location (2011 El Cajon Boulevard). After Blockbuster closed, the building had been graffiti-tagged constantly and was often a homeless hangout.