ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Union School Board voted 4-1 on Feb. 15 to enter into negotiations with a group to sell the Pacific View Elementary site.Three groups out of 15 original proposals were selected to make their pitch to the trustees during a special meeting.San Diego-based nonprofit Art Pulse was chosen in part because the group plans to purchase the site for $7.5 million and has some funds on hand. “As a school board, we have to be fiscal stewards of the district and protect our kids and their education,” board President Emily Andrade said.
Envision the View and the Sanderling Waldorf School were also in the running. Both offered to lease the 2.8-acre oceanfront parcel. Trustee Maureen Muir supported Envision the View’s plan to turn the site into a community center.
Located on Third Street between E and F Streets, the modest school is surrounded by commercial buildings and smaller homes. It closed due to declining enrollment in the area in 2003.
The property was gifted to the city in 1883 as a school site. The original schoolhouse is located to the west of the property and houses the Encinitas Historical Society.
While several proposals have been tossed around regarding the future of the site, none have been met with success.
In 2005, an advisory committee was created consisting of various stakeholders. An initial proposal to build a medical complex with office space and condos was met with disapproval by the downtown community.
The school board sued the city after the City Council refused to rezone the property from semi-public to residential last year. EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird Ed.D. said the board would drop the suit if negotiations with Art Pulse were successful.
Tony Kranz, a Leucadia resident expressed some reservations about the deal. “I’m nervous about this property no longer being public property,” he told the City Council. He said he was disappointed that the council declined to entertain an offer by the school district to purchase the property for a proposed $10 million. “It’s all water under the bridge at this point,” he said.
Kranz urged the council to go on record supporting the plan with Art Pulse.
April Game, Art Pulse’s executive director was thrilled about the board’s choice. The group’s proposal calls for developing art studios, offices, a public park and a conference center on the land with underground parking.
Renowned father and son architects James and Drew Hubbell are slated to design the center.
“Encinitas is home to hundreds of artists that now will have a place to perform and teach and learn in an iconic facility,” Game said. “It will enhance Encinitas’ reputation for arts and culture.”
Baird told the board that detailed negotiations would proceed, and a final proposal would come back for board approval March 6.