Welcome to San Diego Blog | April 20, 2010

New Library Downtown San Diego

There have been a lot of folks wondering what the future will hold for the vacant land located in East Village San Diego adjacent to ICON condos and directly in front of Metome condosThis spot had been proposed as the future sight of the San Diego library, but funding has been an issue since day one.  There is a state grant that was given to the city, but the grant monies had to be allocated and the project in full swing by this Summer.  If not, the $20 million grant would be lost.

San Diego City Library Future Location

Proposed Location for the Downtown San Diego City Library

In a last ditch effort to not lose the $20M grant, the San Diego City Council approved an unusual agreement with the San Diego Unified School District that would designate two floors of the planned downtown library for a middle or high school project.

Allowing the public school to be part of the library project would infuse millions into the downtown project and would help solve the problem of where to get the necessary funding to complete the project.  San Diego Unified School District offered to chip in more than $20 million in exchange for the space.

If the school board approves lease before May, San Diego will have met the first of two major requirements to keep the $20M state grant.

How much will the Total Cost of the Library Be?

 The city of San Diego still needs to get an updated estimate on the total cost basis for the entire library, which was last estimated to cost $185 million five years ago. City officials said they expect to total up the bids for the building by April 29, just before the deadline.  Many feel the cost may be lower now that many construction companies are out of work and will price their bid competitively just to survive the next few years.

The San Diego city council approved the school lease by a 5-3 vote.  The  unknown price tag is the major gray cloud hovering over the entire downtown deal.

downtown library

The lease would give San Diego Unified the sixth and seventh floors of the planned downtown library for 40 years at a $20 million cost, paid beforehand as the library is built. The school district also expects to pay approximately $10 million to add flooring, interior walls and other improvements

While the space is supposed to be used for a charter middle or high school, San Diego Unified is also allowed to use it for offices or a private school. It is not normal practice for school districts to build space for charter schools, which are independently run , publicly funded and usually overseen by districts, but this may be the exception.

What do you think about the new Downtown Library?  Would this be public money well spent?



Written by: chad

Categories: Downtown San Diego

  1. Is this public money well spent? Absolutely! If there is a better use of these designated funds, I cannot think of it. $80 million from CCDC for downtown public projects, just like this. $20 million from the school district for an innovative and much needed high school downtown. $20 million in State funds for Library development (money that will go to another City if San Diego does not move forward). The remainder from public sources. If the construction bids come in at the levels expected I cannot see how San Diego can pass on this opportunity.

  2. Hi Charlie, I couldn’t agree more. Downtown is in need of schools and I see great value in a traditional library as well. I would like to see the Thomas Jefferson School of Law occupy a part of the new structure for their library and contribute some funds. If we can make this a collaborative effort from different entitites, we will find a way to raise the necessary funds. The residents of San Diego will enjoy the many benefits. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I hope this library will have the proper internet blocking and filtration software on those computer terminals. I would be really upset to know transients and those with a criminal past can sit there and surf illicit websites with children nearby.

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