Posts Tagged ‘Hillcrest’
On Sunday, I took some more photographs of the entropic balcony:
Now, if you'll look at the image of the balcony when viewed from the east, then you'll see that the south-eastern support post was attached to the balcony by way of a plate. The plate was affixed using two nails, one top and one bottom. I say
was in each case because the displacement of the post has caused its nail to be pulled.
Most places in the universe are not Bella Italia Fragrances. But there's a place in Hillcrest that in its own special way is not Bella Italia Fragrances.
Here are a couple of pictures of Bella Italia Fragrances, at 3852 4th Avenue, captured by Google for their street view: It sold soap, shave brushes, and so forth.
One day, walking along the 3800 block of 4th Avenue for the first time in many days, I found this carport. I was amazed. As you can infer by looking to the left and to the right, the carport was where Bella Italia Fragrances once was. But the carport also appeared to have been where it was for years.
Evidently, a shop had been implanted into the carport. The decorative bushes at the entrance, and the scrubby bush at the curb served to disguise what had been done. And evidently the implantation was highly reversible.
One of the oddities of Hillcrest manifests itself as this building front: It's right in the middle of the block on the east side of 5th Avenue, between Robinson Avenue and University Avenue. The doors have been closed and locked every time that I've passed.
Walk around to the east side of the block, on 6th Avenue, and you'll find a building and parking lot with signs for Pernicano's and Casa di Baffi. (The name of the latter means House of the Mustaches.) The building itself is labelled
Pernicano's. It is always closed. The parking lot is always fenced-off and unavailable.
All told, this is a pretty big chunk of a city block. Hillcrest has various idling properties right now, but, actually, these particular properties have been idling since 1985!
I believe that the building on 5th Avenue was Casa di Baffi, but I wasn't in San Diego back in '84. In any case, the properties belong to George Pernicano. He operated two restaurants there from 1946 until 1985. Pernicano's was apparently quite a hot-spot, with movie stars and celebrity athletes visiting regularly. Then he shut the restaurants down, and refuses to do anything with the property.
Various explanations — some speculative, some perhaps informed — are offered for why Mr Pernicano keeps these properties idle.
Search the web, or ask some of the merchants in Hillcrest, and you'll read or hear a lot of complaining about Pernicano. Some of it is honest; some of it self-serving posturing. Many merchants would like active businesses on these lots; some parties, at least in good times, would like to have the properties for their own direct use; a lot of people would like local parking to be increased, as it is a real problem.
My own view starts with the point that the properties belong to Pernicano. People can make polite suggestions — and some indeed confine themselves to such — but Pernicano ought to reject sanctimonious demands out-of-hand. As to parking, if successful businesses were again operating out of the two buildings, increased demand for parking would consume that now unused lot. I don't see any other landlords preparing to tear down a building to make room for a parking lot. I think that the parking issue is a wash.
But I do think that Mr Pernicano needs to attend to some building maintenance very soon. Some of those roofing tiles on the 5th Avenue building are working loose. Results could be pretty dire if one fell and hit a pedestrian.
In the past, I've asserted that San Diego is seriously over-built. Hillcrest, the neighborhood in which I live, has many commercial sites that have been empty for some time. As an œconomist, I naturally wonder why the landlords haven't lowered the rent to a point where some party takes occupancy.
One possibility would be that the landlords were hoping for an up-turn in the economy. The possibility would make them more reluctant to commit to long-term leasing contracts at what would be present market-clearing rates, and might make them reluctant to even rent month-to-month, as there would be difficulties getting short-term renters out as quickly a more desirable renter might want to begin using the site.
Part of what would make it difficult to remove month-to-month renters would be local and state laws and regulations governing evictions. And other interventions in the market could be holding rents and vacancies at unnatural levels. For example, the structure of tax law might make sometimes make it advantageous to leave a property idle.
In any case, the numbers of vacancies, and durations of some of them, would be difficult or impossible to explain based simply on reference to market forces.
308 Washington Street, half-a-block from where I live, was a Hollywood Video rental store when I first moved to Hillcrest. (Most or all of their wares were VHS tapes at that time!) At some point, they hived-off perhaps a fifth of the site for digital electronic game rentals. Eventually, this section became a separate store, 302 Washington Street, and then Hollywood Video vacated that section, which was then rented to a UPS franchise store. Some time in late 2007 or in 2008, Hollywood Video shut down the store at 308 Washington Street. Since then, the building has stood about four-fifths empty, with a large sign advertising its availability.
Finally, yester-day, I saw a crew in the site gutting things in what I take to be the first stage of a renovation.
The last time that someone was poking-around in 308 Washington Street, I asked Scott, who works at the UPS store, lives in the same complex as I, and frequents the same coffee house (Babycakes) if he knew who the party was, and he said that rumor held it to be PetCo, which we agreed would be cool. Last night, Art, who lives in the same complex and works part-time at the coffee house express hope that the new store would be, er, a Denny's Restaurant, and didn't like the idea of a pet supply store there, in spite of being a dog-owner. Art sees PetCo stores as essentially
big boxes like Wal·Mart stores. Well, there's some truth to that. On the other hand, Denny's Restaurants are open all day, almost every day of the year, and can be associated with a lot of traffic. Our immediate neighborhood could become more congested and louder late at night with a Denny's Restaurant. But I don't think them a likely renter there.
[Up-Date (2009:03/26): Scott tells me that word remains that 308 is to be occupied by a PetCo store.]
The night that Vons was screwing-up the delivery of food that the Woman of Interest had ordered on my behalf, I went to Ramesses, at 3882 4th Avenue in Hillcrest. I figured that I could get a whalloping amount of protein in a highly palatable form.
They gave me too much food. Really, they are very concerned to please their customers, so when I told them not to bother with the salad (I cannot readily digest lettuce), they gave me more rice. And they'd just dealt with an unanticipated surge of customers, so that Said (one of the proprietors and one of the chefs) needed time to get more rice cooked; to compensate for that delay (which really didn't bother me), he gave me some free lentil soup (which was excellent) and then a piece of some sweet baked good. They amount of food that I would have got without the extra rice, the soup, and the dessert would have been quite filling. When Carmen (the other proprietor, and Said's wife) offered me a second glass of ice tea, I had to turn it down, simply because there wasn't going to be room for it.
My understanding is that Ramesses is developing a growing local following. Well, they deserve it. And if they stay in business then I can keep eating there.
I eat at Ramesses fairly often. I always order the same thing. I suspect that there are other dishes that I would really like. but I so enjoy the dish that I first ordered there that I don't want to pass it up to try one of the other offerings.
One good thing is that I get to wear my duster.
But my understanding is that Babycakes has been taking a hit from the weather, with fewer customers. I think that part of the issue is that, while the efforts of the owners to attract new customers have produced some positive results, the new customers whom they have attracted don't have a sense of attachment to the place; in the meantime, changes have weakened the sense of attachment held by the established customers.
For example, most of the indoor seating for customers is in a single, long room. The owners have tried to give things a cozier feeling be partitioning that room with curtains. But the rental computers are on one side of those curtains, and the tables used by those with note-book computers are on the other; practicalities divide friends, and thus the sense of the place as one where one is with friends is eroded.
I don't know how much actual business, over-all, is associated with the WLAN, but the quality of that network has been poor for weeks. The router was moved into a back-building to allow for renovation of the room in which the router was previously located. And that back-building seems to work largely as an insulating cage. In the front half of the main building and on the front patio, there is no longer any meaningful access to the WLAN. The signal is degraded even on the back patio, and it's only there that the WoW folk can get a sufficient signal for their purposes.
Anyway, in the absence of a stronger sense of attachment and in the context of the bad weather, people just don't come. (And the people who need a solid 'Net connection aren't typically going to set-up their computers where it is cold and wet.) I don't know where the balance is to be struck, but I think that the owners need to improvise quickly, to restore at least somewhat the relationship of their business to its established customers. I think that the baristi should be told to open or to close the partitioning curtains according to their judgment about what sort of customers are present, and I think that the wireless router needs to be moved out of the back building and into a more central location, perhaps in the second story of the main building.
Oddly enough, these were well away from the corner.
On occasion in Hillcrest, I find footwear on the sidewalk, at some corner. And I don't mean a lone sneaker or flip-flop; I mean a matched pair of shoes or of boots, one placed beside the other. These were at the corner of Washington Street and Third Avenue this evening: