Will Hillcrest turn into Little Italy?

Posted at 6:52 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 22:01:48-05

SAN DIEGO - A massive new development could soon dominate an empty parking lot just outside the heart of Hillcrest, and it could affect people who don't even live in the area.

Marco Anzures said he and his wife face one big challenge by living in Hillcrest -- "We have one spot but two cars, so it makes it tough."

The lack of parking doesn't just make it hard for people who live there; it can downright kill Main Street.

"Sometimes businesses don't stick around longer and we thought maybe it is because of parking," Anzures said.

However, there are always open spaces at the corner of Robinson and Seventh avenues in the form of a one-acre parking lot mostly used by AT&T.

Now, even that could change into a seven-story development to be built on the side. The structure would have more than 100 residences -- nine for very low-income earners. It would also have retail on the ground floor, plus three levels of underground parking and a separate parking garage.

A spokesman for the city of San Diego told 10News the project could be approved within 30 days without a public hearing, though it can be appealed to the Planning Commission.

Benjamin Nicholls, who heads the Hillcrest Business Association, said more projects like this could be coming after the City Council passed new development guidelines under the Uptown Community Plan this month.

"We're not going to have rely on parking as much," he said. "People are going to live above the restaurants, and so we're going to get that walkability we've seen in North Park and Little Italy."

Anzures said he'd like to see something fill in that mostly empty parking lot, under one condition.

"As long as they kept kind of the local flavor of what Hillcrest is kind of like, I think I'd be OK with that," he said.