In a result that was high on the wish list of many Coronado residents, the Coronado City Council voted unanimously to agree to the expansion of the Vons Grocery store, located at 868 Orange Avenue into the adjacent and long-empty Cora Mart building next door. The building has not been occupied since it served briefly as a teen center operated by the city in 1998. By the numbers, the existing Vons space covers 18,221 square feet and Cora Mart is 5,550 square feet.
Technically, the vote came as the continuance of a public hearing that began during the Council meeting of Sept. 17, 2019. During that session, Vons contested several determinations from the Coronado Design Review Commission, the Coronado Planning Commission, and the City Staff related to the original building plans they submitted to expand into Cora Mart. Issues that were discussed and needed to be agreed upon included the parking spaces needed for the combined building and plan to control them; the future location of electrical equipment currently located in the parking lot; and the fact that the original plans called for the windows which face Orange Avenue and would be covered by shelving.
But the major issue that generated the most concern from the Council were the original plans called for 175 feet of mostly un-interrupted building frontage on Orange Avenue, which frankly looked like a large warehouse in the middle of the Coronado Business District.
A breakthrough in the negotiations occurred Sept. 24, 2019, when representatives from Vons and the City Staff met and agreed in principle on the modifications to the building plans. Outlined below from the City Staff Report for the Oct. 15 council meeting are several of the changes made from Vons original request.
• Vons has offered to screen or hide the electrical junction box and conduit on the rear façade of the building
• Vons will incorporate a private art piece into the front façade, with consideration from the community in the selection of the art piece.
• Vons will provide up to $150,000 in funding to the City for sidewalk and street tree enhancements along the frontage to improve the walkability and pedestrian experience
• Provide decorative louvers to be installed instead of opaque glass to hide the back of shelving units placed against the Orange Avenue storefront windows
• The design will introduce a new decorative metal faux door for the Cora Mart frontage
• A new entry tower at the current Orange Avenue entrance will be added
• A new storefront with clear glazing will be provided
• A new façade that will extend above the existing roofline of Vons to visually tie the buildings together and screen the rooftop mechanical equipment, will be added
• New temporary and moveable outdoor tables, chairs and umbrellas on the Orange Avenue sidewalk will be incorporated into the design plans
• And updated signage on the Orange Avenue, Ninth Street, and the alley frontages will be added. The new signage will to include both Vons and Starbucks
During the presentation made by Vons at the Oct. 15 City Council meeting, it was pointed out that Vons did not purchase the Cora Mart Building, but instead has entered into a long-term lease with the ownership group. Which means the building’s ownership, comprised of seven entities remains the same. The owners and their percentage of ownership include: The Barob Group, Ltd.-33.333 percent; Barcon Limited Partnership–33.333 percent; Britton Family Trust–11.111 percent; David C. Newman Irrevocable Trust–5.556 percent; Joy Ann Newman Revocable Trust–5.556 percent; Cara Wasden Irrevocable Trust–5.556 percent; and the Wasden Family Revocable Trust-5.556 percent. The inference was Vons would only pay so much money to improve a building they didn’t own.
The Council deliberations essentially came down to the issue of the building façade which faces Orange Avenue. Councilmember Mike Donovan summarized the Council deliberations succinctly when he said, “I’m fine with the parking. The landscaping and furniture will help us. This will launch us into getting this block to look a lot better. The trees do break up the front of the building. As for the decorative door, at least there is a door there. It gives the feeling of breaking up the area. I support the ceramic art, which needs approval by the Arts Commission and Design Review. It comes down to the windows. I like the louvered shades. In understand the windows give an open feeling and give people walking down the street something to look at. But that is not a big enough driver to not do the project. I trust the city staff to work with the architect. I’m concerned about the decorative door, which needs to look like a real door. Other than that, I am okay with the approach. My bottom line is we aren’t meeting some specific parts of the Orange Avenue Plan, but what has been done in the last month is a hell of a lot better. I look at this as a spirit of compromise.” The final vote was 5-0 in favor of the revised plan.
Another item on the agenda for the Oct. 15 meeting was the approval of the 2020 Special Events Calendar in the City of Coronado.
The approved schedule, listed in chronological order includes:
Valentine’s Day 10K Race, Sunday, Feb. 9
SuperSEAL Triathlon, Sunday, March 15
The combined Book Sale, Flower Show and Library Book Sale,
Fri.-Sun. April 17-19
MotorCars on MainStreet, Sunday, April 26
Over the Bridge Run/Walk, Sunday, May 17
Coronado Promenade Concerts in Spreckels Park, Sundays, from
May 24 through Sept/ 6
Fourth of July Celebration, Saturday, July 4
San Diego Bicycle Coalition request to hold Bike the Bay, Sunday,
Superfrog Triathlon Sunday, Sept. 20
San Diego Padres Pedal the Cause, Sunday, Nov. 1
KOZ Events Silver Strand Half Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 8
Coronado Island Film Festival, Thursday through Sunday,
Chamber of Commerce Holiday Open House, Friday, Dec. 4
There was one date conflict as a new non-profit Emerald Keepers and the Superfrog Triathlon both requested events to be held Sept. 20. The council decided to maintain the preference of previous councils and only have one major event per day. Emerald Keepers was encouraged to find another date that could work for them and their one-time event. City Manager Blair King suggested the council might consider adopting a new ordinance in the future that would more accurately reflect the actual number of special events held annually in the city.
In other City Council actions:
Bailey presented a proclamation in honor of Coronado Lions Club White Cane Days, which was accepted by Lions Club member Floyd Ross.
City Manager King announced that the City of Coronado would sponsor a resolution before the 2019 League of California Convention, requesting more funding for cross-border pollution issues. It is thought the resolution is the first ever submitted by Coronado. Councilmember Marvin Heinze will be representing the city at the convention and his second is Councilmember Donovan.
The Council unanimously passed the Staff recommendation to grant 11 Historic Resource Preservation (Mills Act) Agreements. Seven of the 11 agreements will have a minor revenue impacts on the city, totaling $30,000 for the first year.
The Council unanimously approved the use of the City’s $75,000 Community Development Block Grant for FY 2020-2021 and FY 2021-2022, to purchase a new emergency generator for the John D. Spreckels Center and Lawn Bowling Green. City Director of Public Services and Engineering Cliff Maurer noted the extreme rain event that occurred December 8, 2018, made clear the city doesn’t have a spare emergency generator available in the city. This project would provide full backup power for the entire facility, which could also serve as an emergency shelter for residents, if needed.
The City Council approved by a 3-2 vote, a new arrow-shaped, lighted sign for The Henry Restaurant, located at 1031 Orange Avenue. The approved sign was a compromise size, the middle ground of three different concepts. Councilmembers Bill Sandke, Donovan and Heinze voted in favor of the mid-sized sign, with Bailey and Councilmember Whitney Benzian voting against the motion as they favored the larger sign.
A request from Bailey and Benzian to include the planting of new trees into the City’s Carbon Sequestration Strategy passed 5-0. The targeted number of new trees to be planted in Coronado was 1,001, which Baily described as, “An aspirational goal.”
Bailey adjourned the meeting in memory of Councilmember Sandke’s father, William K. Sandke, who passed away recently.
The next meeting of the Coronado City Council will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, at 4 p.m. City Council meetings are held at City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.