ENCINITAS — In a move nearly 20 years in the making, the Encinitas City Council is pushing ahead with plans to convert the former site of Pacific View Academy into a public arts center.
The site, located on Third Street near downtown Encinitas, has been dormant since the closing of Pacific View Elementary in 2003.
The city purchased the site in 2014, but since then, plans for the property have not been openly discussed by the City Council.
Roughly three years later in 2017, the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance entered into an agreement with the city to operate and maintain the site and submitted an application to the city’s planning department to redevelop the property.
However, when the agreement with the city expired, the application never returned to the city’s planning commission and since then the site has remained dormant. According to the city, the original application from the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance is also still valid despite being last seen by the city’s Planning Commission in 2019.
Councilmember Joy Lyndes says the site is an important part of the community and is eager to get the site back online for the city.
“The Pacific View property itself is part of the character of our community,” Lyndes said. “And it’s been neglected, unfortunately, but it can come back. I do a lot of work with historic preservation and there are some good bones there.”
Following the original partnership with the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance, the council was keen on transforming the site into a space for the arts.
“Really focusing on the arts is what I think our city has been hoping for so long,” Councilmember Kellie Hinze said.
The actual redevelopment will take some time, including the potential for more permits and approvals from the California Coastal Commission.
“Having served now for three years and understanding the way that budgets work, we’re looking at some big numbers,” Hinze said.
Since the site has been closed to the public since it was purchased seven years ago, the city has relied on volunteers, many of whom are connected with the arts community, to maintain the property.
“I want to recognize all the great work that has been done by our community volunteers to try to make the site something that we could use,” said Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “But the reality is right now it is looking a bit derelict and it’s not available for the public and it has a lot of potential.”
Funding for the redevelopment has yet to be determined but the city may explore several avenues as plans move along. State and federal grants may be available to supplement any expenditures that may come from the city’s general fund.
“Recognizing that we don’t have unlimited funds but there are a variety of different places funding can come from,” Blakespear said.
Naimeh Woodward, of Encinitas Friends of the Arts, a group that has presented its own vision for converting the property into a public arts center, spoke to the council and laid out other funding sources for the redevelopment.
“This is a critical time because there are a lot of funds available through county grants, community enhancement and neighborhood reinvestment, private grants and national grants,” Woodward said.