New item on the Pernicano menu?

With the neighborhood envisioning a better Hillcrest as we work to update 1988’s community plan, residents and business owners continue to meet and discuss successes, address problems, share ideas and stretch dreams into plans that will enhance our future.

pernicanosEveryone knows the old Pernicano and Casa di Baffi sites are primed for redevelopment. The properties, abandoned since 1985, have been eyesores, magnets for graffiti, crime and vagrancy (even though in October 2012, the SD City Council unanimously passed an “abatement of abandoned properties” ordinance — nothing has changed.) Occupying 25,000 square feet in the heart of Hillcrest, the empty buildings continue to capture the interest of aspiring restaurateurs, developers and council members. After sitting unused for over 26 years, Todd Gloria contacted the Pernicano family in hopes of opening the fenced-off parking lot along Sixth Avenue. After many months of negotiations, in June 2010 the lot was resurfaced and welcomed public parking at $2/hour or $5 for the day. Eight months later, Realtor Stanley Paul Cook announced that the Pernicano family had retained him to market the property. What’s next?

Think big…imagine incorporating the space underneath both of Pernicano’s properties along with the Rite Aid parking lot into a large underground parking facility with several access points including one from Highway 163. Rite Aid lot would retain disabled parking near the door, but the rest of the asphalt would be transformed into a community park or plaza. Across Robinson Avenue a raised sidewalk would lead to another park and a mid-to high-rise tower of affordable housing designed with floors for seniors and service people who will commit to using public transportation. The penthouse will feature fabulous views and a rooftop garden for all to enjoy. At ground level Hillcrest’s finest restaurant will be featured near the corner of Sixth & Robinson with an entrance at the front door and (of course) valet parking.

When exiting from the garage people may walk to the restaurant, into another open green space with fountains or through an alleyway that connects to Fifth Avenue. This is lined with storefronts available for first time entrepreneurs at affordable rents. Businesses grow, become established and relocate…opening up the opportunity for another.

What do you think…can you see it? Attend one of the city’s community plan update meetings and share your dreams.

— First published in HillQuest Urban Guide #9, 2011