ENCINITAS — Two Encinitas councilmembers want to see the Pacific View Elementary School site transformed into a multi-purposed museum for the short term as the city develops a long-term vision for the property.
But the plans face significant and potentially costly hurdles, city staff said at a council subcommittee meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The subcommittee, composed of Lisa Shaffer and Tony Kranz, is recommending the site, which the city recently purchased for $10 million from the Encinitas Union School District, be used for something they called an “art, cultural, history and environment museum.”
The museum would pave the way for the city’s ultimate goal for the property, which would be determined through the city’s arts master plan update.
Shaffer and Kranz’s recommendation, which will be presented to the entire council at the Jan. 28 meeting, also includes the city partnering with a qualified organization or coalition that would spearhead the project.
The city has been exploring the possibility of preserving and rehabilitating the buildings for whatever interim use is being planned, which will likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do, City Public Works Director Glenn Pruim told the subcommittee during a staff presentation.
The city has spent more than $61,000 to date on several consultant studies of the property.
It will cost around $150,000 just to keep the buildings structurally sound by not ready for occupancy, Pruim said.
To make the buildings habitable — which would include bringing the buildings up to code, making sure the electricity, plumbing are operational, and providing adequate parking — will cost significantly more.
When that is completed, the physical constraints of the site – the building size, amount of bathroom and parking, among other things – will restrict the potential uses for the site, Pruimm said.
Pruim suggested that the city could use $500,000 from the recent bonds it sold for the purchase of Pacific View, which is available because the city didn’t have to make debt service payments last year, to pay for the rehabilitation work.
Members of the audience appeared divided over the concept of preserving the buildings, with some calling on the city to raze the buildings and start with a “clean slate,” using temporary buildings to satisfy any interim use.
Others were skeptical of the subcommittee’s recommendation of a museum, which some said was too broad and redundant considering Encinitas has several museums in town.
Shaffer and Kranz, however, said the museum term allows for a lot of creativity, citing the Lux Art Institute as an example of what the city has approved under the umbrella “museum” term.