ESCONDIDO — The demolition of the old Palomar Health hospital in downtown Escondido will commence on Aug. 6, marking the start of the Palomar Heights project, a new urban lifestyle community.
Integral Communities, the developer of the project, will celebrate the first milestone of the project with members of Escondido’s business community on Friday.
The site consists of about 14 acres of land at the eastern end of the downtown area, on both sides of Valley Boulevard, and generally bounded by E. Valley Parkway to the north and E. Grand Avenue to the south, according to the city staff report.
The development will include 258 apartments for rent, 90 senior apartments earmarked for residents 55 and up, as well as 162 row homes and villas for sale.
The project’s commercial space will include a breakfast café, a retail farmer’s market, a collaborative workspace, a Sky Lounge bar and restaurant, a dog park and recreation amenities.
Palomar Hospital, which has been at the site since 1953, will be demolished to accommodate the project.
“It really is a milestone in the redevelopment of different parts of the downtown and the goal of getting residential development down there will be a great asset to the community because it will provide more of a customer base for the businesses downtown,” said Adam Finestone, Escondido’s interim director of community development.
The project went in front of the City Council in January and was approved on a 3-2 vote, with council members Mike Morasco, Tina Inscoe and Joe Garcia in favor, and Mayor Paul McNamara and Consuelo Martinez voting against.
Critics of the project point to its glaring lack of affordable housing. However, the city of Escondido is one of only two cities in the county that does not have an inclusionary housing requirement.
“We designed the project to meet the demands of the market, which is a variety of housing types, so there’s no deed-restricted affordable housing, but there are homes that are smaller in size that will have lower rents, and that’ll meet a segment of the market that has a higher rate of affordability,” said Ninia Hammond, project manager with Integral Communities.
Hammond said they expect homes to be delivered around the first quarter of 2023.
“We’re most excited about the fact that we’re bringing housing to downtown Escondido. It will bring a substantial amount of tax revenue to the city, but it will also bring shoppers and diners to Grand Avenue and downtown Escondido, and those businesses that made their way through the pandemic,” Hammond said. “They survived, and it’s really time for them to flourish now.”