Pacific View renewal is underway, and Encinitas wants your input

The transformation of the historic Pacific View Elementary School campus into a public arts center is well underway, after having been unanimously approved by the Encinitas City Council last October.

In fact, enough progress has been made that Pacific View’s color scheme will soon be decided, and the city is asking residents to vote on one of the three palette options shown below by March 31, 2023.

The color options were determined by a focus group of community members from Encinitas Friends of the Arts, Commission for the Arts, and a landscape architect, working with the COAR Design Group.

Results will be presented to the Commission for the Arts at its April 3 meeting. The projected completion date for Pacific View’s renovation is July 2024.

The link to take the survey by March 31 is here.

Below is a March 10, 2023 North Coast Current story on the project’s progress by Charlene Pulsonetti, along with photos by Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz and‘s Scott Chatfield:

Classrooms and offices at the former Pacific View Elementary School in Encinitas, pictured in early 2023, are gutted in preparation for renovation as an arts center. (Courtesy photo by Tony Kranz)

Back in session: Work underway at Pacific View arts site in Encinitas

By Charlene PulsonettiNorth Coast Current, March 10, 2023

After years of meetings, advocacy and planning, the former Pacific View Elementary School is on the way to becoming a center of activity again.

On Oct. 26, 2022, the Encinitas City Council announced that Conan Construction won the bid to renovate the site, with Kleinfelder Construction Services managing and inspecting.

The total cost will be $6,466,400, which comprises a construction contract of $4,559,500, construction contingency at $911,900, construction management and inspection at $800,000, construction management and inspection contingency at $120,000, and utility company fees of $75,000.

The former school, located at 608 Third St., was built in 1953 and closed in 2003 due to decreased enrollment. In early 2014, it was put up for public auction.

“I remember waking up at 3 a.m. in February of 2014, and it occurred to me that (the) grown-ups aren’t going to fix this,” resident Scott Chatfield recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘This shall not stand.’”

As a result, Chatfield created, which has served as a central source of information on the project.

A few months later, the city decided to purchase the property, securing its use within the public domain.

Part of the Pacific View restoration activity as seen from the outside at D Street on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Scott Chatfield)

Bringing the 70-year-old structure up to date will take some time. Work began on Nov. 28, 2022, and is expected to be complete by May 24, 2024. A city spokesperson confirmed that the project is currently on schedule.

“Initial efforts consisted of demolition and abatement of hazardous materials,” said the spokesperson, who declined to be named. “Construction of the building improvements began in January 2023.”

Along with repairing structural elements damaged by termites and weather, new roofs will also be constructed for both buildings. Other improvements include adding shear walls and foundations to meet current building codes, building ramps and a wheelchair lift to meet Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, replacing old plumbing and electrical systems, adding an HVAC system, and integrating an electronic fire protection system and industrial technology system.

The site will primarily be used for arts education, including visual, performing, literary and music programs. There will also be drop-in times for artists to work on their projects.

“Each of the site’s classrooms is designed for an intended use,” the city spokesperson explained. “Some of the educational programmings may include printmaking, photography, drawing, painting, dance, theater, music, fiber arts, and other areas of community interest.”

Carolyn Cope, president of the Encinitas Historical Society, located on the same lot, said she is enthusiastic about the project moving forward.“(It’s) a tremendous asset to the city and the neighborhood,” she said, sharing that the organization may expand its hours after the facility opens.

Then-Encinitas City Councilmember Tony Kranz joined community members to help restore Pacific View as part of the Encinitas Arts Culture and Ecology Alliance’s efforts on September 17, 2016. (Photo by Scott Chatfield)

There have been debates along the way on how the site should be used. However, Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz said he feels that this is common.

“It seems like we have a consensus for what we are doing, which is making buildings habitable and activating the site,” he said.

Once the work is complete, and the vision is solidified, he is confident about its benefits.

“I think this is another piece that will attract additional people downtown,” he said. “It’s got the historical aspects as well as the cultural aspects that I think people in this region appreciate.”

Demolition crews work inside one of the former Pacific View Elementary School buildings in Encinitas in early 2023. (Courtesy photo by Tony Kranz)

Encinitas Friends of the Arts has aided in fundraising and advocacy throughout the project’s journey. Though the city’s Cultural Arts Division will manage the site, Naimeh Woodward, founder and president of the Encinitas Friends of the Arts, said she is hopeful that the organization will still be a part of the conversation.

“We are excited for the project and would love to be engaged,” she said. “But, we are waiting for the city’s direction on how they want us to be involved.”

Woodward sees the center as a way of celebrating the diversity of Encinitas.

“Our goal is to really make it a destination,” she said, explaining that the site can be a stop as tourists take in local businesses, including art galleries and restaurants. “We want to bring in cutting-edge arts and bring in celebrated artists that live in our community.”

She added that she would enjoy seeing fiber art classes offered as well as an integration of science into the programs.

“There’s a lot of exciting things they can choose to do. They’ll need help. We are here to support them the best we can,” she said.

This space at the former Pacific View Elementary School site in Encinitas was originally a covered outdoor area before its conversion to an interior room that was used for decades. The area is exposed again, pictured in early 2023, as the campus is transformed into a city arts center. (Courtesy photo by Tony Kranz)

In the meantime, the community can provide input through surveys and by attending meetings.

“Public input will be obtained through future surveys and the Commission for the Arts public meetings that are noticed on the city website,” the city spokesperson said.

They shared that focus groups consisting of community members and Commission for the Arts members have already provided feedback on the facility’s color, programming and fundraising.

After a long journey and uncertainties along the way, the mood is optimistic.

“(It’s) very gratifying,” Kranz said. “The process has been long and sometimes difficult to be patient about, but thanks to my colleagues on the council and previous Mayor Catherine Blakespear, we took some important steps, and solid progress is now made.”

“I’m so proud of our City Council because it was a brave thing to do,” Chatfield said. “They put their money where their mouth was and took a lot of flak for their view. I think history will prove that their vision was magnificently justified.”

A jubilant groundbreaking ceremony on October 28, 2022 was attended by dozens of community members, many of whom attended Pacific View, worked to preserve it from development, or both. Above, pivotal movers behind Pacific View’s resurrection symbolically break ground to kick off the city’s $6.5 million renewal of the historic site. (Photo by Scott Chatfield)

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