San Diego City Government To Consider Sale Of Former Central Library

The city of San Diego is set to explore the potential sale and redevelopment of two properties in the East Village, namely the old Central Library and a former indoor skydiving center currently used for homeless services. The aim is to utilize surplus city land to increase housing production for individuals with varying income levels.

old san diego downtown library
The old San Diego City Library off E Street/Eighth Avenue in downtown San Diego. It sat untouched for the remainder of its life after the Central Library in Park Boulevard was constructed. (Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The proposal has gained momentum with the support of Jay Goldstone, the city’s former second highest-ranking executive and current special adviser to Mayor Todd Gloria.

The old Central Library, located at Eighth Avenue and E Street, was opened in 1954 but has remained vacant since its closure in 2013. Over the years, developers have considered different alternative uses for the historic structure, including a 42-story apartment tower.

However, previous efforts to repurpose the building for office use were halted due to a land-use question related to the deed. Fortunately, the issue has been resolved, and the library site is now ready for redevelopment.

Despite these challenges, city staff will explore available options for the property, and another property. In 2018, the city also purchased a failed skydiving center by a federal grant, which would allow the city to turn it into a homeless response center.

In April, Goldstone will request council members’ concurrence with the mayor’s direction to initiate redevelopment opportunities for the properties at 820 E St. (old Central Library) and 1401 Imperial Ave. (indoor skydiving center). If approved, staff will begin studying the sites, evaluating the best projects for each property, and seeking input from council members during the summer.

The primary objective is to create additional housing, with a focus on low- and moderate-income families and potentially providing housing for homeless individuals. The decision to pursue redevelopment stems from a request made by three City Council members last year to consolidate most of the city’s surplus downtown real estate and issue a comprehensive notice of availability.

The city aims to address the concerns raised by council members regarding the future of the navigation center and the old downtown Central Library. By addressing these properties individually, the city can ensure compliance with the Surplus Land Act and prioritize redevelopment efforts.