ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) – Phase 1 of the Grand Avenue Vision project is officially underway.
The project will first expand the sidewalk on the north portion of Grand Ave. between Maple and Broadway, allowing restaurants to have permanent outdoor dining areas.
Some restaurant owners found more customers to enjoy outdoor dining during the pandemic when businesses temporarily moved their seating outdoors.
“It was good; people liked it outside,” said Cecilia Estevez, the owner of Tamales Jovita on the corner of Grand and Maple.
“I think with the new sidewalk, it’s going to be nicer. I’m very excited for it because I’m going to be able to have more tables outside.”
Phase 1 began with k-rails and outdoor dining setups recently removed; crews have also started digging up the area where the sidewalk will be extended.
“It’s going to provide more space and more room for outdoor dining and pedestrian environment,” said Adam Finestone, Interim Director of Community Development for the City of Escondido.
He said phase 1 also includes reducing the lanes on Grand Avenue from Escondido Blvd to Juniper Street.
“We’re going to go down to a single lane in each direction,” said Finestone. The lane reduction is expected to slow down traffic in the area and make way for sidewalk expansion and new parking spots.
Finestone said crews would also be adding new light posts and overhead string lighting from Maple to Kalmia.
The first phase is expected to take about three months to complete.
“A lot of the funding for this first phase came through a grant from SANDAG; we’ve also allocated some of our Transnet funding for it,” said Finestone. The second phase, we’re using a little bit of our American Rescue Plan act funding for that.”
The plan is to eventually widen both sides of Grand Avenue from Maple to Juniper during phase 2. Finestone said the engineering design work for phase 2 starts sometime this year, with construction expected to begin in 2023.
“With the old hospital downtown that’s in the middle of being demolished, we’re going to have a 500 unit apartment complex there, so we’re going to have more feet on the streets, which will definitely be a good enhancement and make the area more useful,” said Finestone.
“I think the goal is to have more foot traffic with the new housing; all those people are going to come down walking because it’s going to be so close to them, said Estevez.
“I’m very grateful that with the city that they’re doing this, I think it’s going to make Escondido more alive.”
Businesses in the area that have questions can reach out to the city at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.