ENCINITAS — The city has selected a contractor for the multimillion-dollar conversion of the former Pacific View School site into a public arts center.
Members of the Encinitas City Council and construction managers held a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 28 at the location of the long-shuttered elementary school, which occupies a downtown city block along Third Street between E and F streets. Construction of the project is expected to begin shortly.
Earlier in the week, on Oct. 26, the council unanimously voted to award the contracting bid to Carlsbad-based firm Conan Construction.
According to a report by city officials, the school’s long-awaited transformation into a public arts center will cost approximately $6.5 million and is expected to be completed in 2024.
Julie Taber, the city’s public information officer, has previously said the funds for the arts center stem from “stimulus money that the federal government provided as part of pandemic relief.”
In addition to overseeing the construction of the arts center, city officials are also focused on bringing the building up to standard regarding state guidelines on accessibility, habitability and energy efficiency, according to Councilman Tony Kranz.
“We hired a contractor to do the necessary work to make the buildings habitable, and at the same time, we will be proceeding with the steps necessary to have the proper activity permitting taken care of as well,” said Kranz. “By the time we cut the ribbon on it in couple of years, we will have the permitting necessary for this to become an arts center. We’re going to do retrofitting. There’s a whole air handling system for circulation; we’re going to make the doorways (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant and get the building up to code.”
Kranz also discussed the intangible value a cultural arts center would bring to Encinitas.
“The city of Encinitas has always had a creative culture that’s been a critical part of the fiber of our community, and we will now have a place dedicated to the arts for the purpose of engaging people in artistic endeavors — dance, music — this community has always wanted facility like that,” Kranz said. “These facilities are an important part of our community. The certain access that communities have here are an indication of a diversity and culture that embraces the creative arts.”
The Pacific View site has been cared for by the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance for the last eight years, but the nonprofit’s efforts to privately fundraise for the site’s renovation fell short, prompting the city to purchase the property and oversee its transformation.
Councilwoman Kellie Hinze, who attended Pacific View School as a child, was pleased to see the city take decisive action to ensure the site’s transformation.
“It makes my heart happy that we’re able to break ground, and there’s a personal connection with me to property, obviously,” Hinze said. “It’s been hard to see it is falling apart, but the fact that we have a structure to still build on is a positive thing.”
Hinze said the input from the community she had received was overwhelmingly in favor of converting the site into an arts center and discussed some of the renovations she felt would be essential to the property’s improvement in the time to come.
“It’s given a blank canvas for people to decide what programming they want there in the coming months and years,” Hinze said. “The (groundbreaking) was exciting. I was there last week with my daughter. There are three generations connected with this place. We want to keep that momentum going and build on the amazing work people have done for so long. The community spent time planting trees, doing stormwater mitigation, planting trees with native landscaping, etc., so I hope we can continue developing those aspects. There’s just a lot of untapped potential here.”