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A City Heights Ballroom Stuck in Redevelopment Limbo - YouTube
"Situated on one of City Heights' busiest street corners, University and Euclid avenues, the Silverado Ballroom is easy to miss. Its street level windows advertise discount furniture, like many others in City Heights. Its peachy beige color fits right in, too.

But look up and the picture changes. Elegant art deco curves on the second level begin to tell a story of 1930s glamour, couples reuniting at postwar dances and visits from music legends like Kitty Wells — if you can look past the peeling paint and ragged curtains.

As a perpetual stream of cars and buses zoom past, the Silverado Ballroom is stuck.

It was slated for restoration this year under an agreement between building owner David Chau and the city, which approved $1.5 million in redevelopment funds for the project.

But in 2011, the state pulled the plug on redevelopment, absorbing the funds to balance its budget and throwing $220 million in City Heights projects in limbo.

The decision also put Chau, a computer engineer and entrepreneur, in a precarious financial situation.

He's already sunk $170,000 of his own money into the restoration — money he says is his fair share for the project, which would yield an event space he could rent out for parties and weddings.

But Chau has also lost about $100,000 in rent money after relocating his tenants shortly before redevelopment ended. He was weeks away from construction at the time. Since then, Chau hasn't been able to find new tenants because he can't guarantee a long-term lease.

"I can't afford to keep the building vacant," Chau said.

Jeff Graham, president of Civic San Diego, the successor agency for the city's former redevelopment outfit, said relief could come this summer. The state is expected to tell the city whether it can spend proceeds from bonds the city previously sold against property tax increment increases.

Graham said, however, that since the bonds won't cover the whole lot of City Heights projects in limbo, Civic San Diego will likely ask community members to reprioritize. Some pending projects could fall to the bottom of the list; others could remain stalled as Civic San Diego looks for money elsewhere.

Chau and Silverado would be up against infrastructure projects residents have long rallied for — better sidewalks, more streetlights and fewer neglected foreclosures.

But City Heights also has a soft spot for the ballroom.

By Brian Myers and Megan Burks"
cityheights  history  redevelopment  2013  sandiego  brianmyers  meganburks 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Bikes del Pueblo Seeks Permanent Space to Help Mid-City Residents With Bike Repairs - YouTube
"A flat tire or a broken chain is all it takes to put a bike out of service if the cyclist doesn’t know how to fix the problem or can’t afford a mechanic.

Eleven year old BMX rider Erick Mwesa found that out last week. Biking allows him to get to school in the mornings so his mother can drive to work. A couple of mechanical issues could mean being tardy to class or a major disruption in his mom’s schedule.

That’s where Bikes del Pueblo steps in. Seven years ago a group of volunteer bicycle mechanics started helping and educating the City Heights bike community about repairs and maintenance. They provide the tools and assistance to fix common bike issues.

Mwesa heard about the group’s assistance from a friend at school. He biked over to the City Heights Farmers Market Saturday on a flat tire to visit the Bikes del Pueblo booth, where the group operates its weekly bicycle workshops.

Volunteer mechanic Olivier Clerc diagnosed the problems and Mwesa soon had tools in hand to disassemble his bike. Clerc worked with Mwesa for about 20 minutes, teaching Mwesa what he needed to do to fix the bike, but never actually doing the work himself.

That’s because Bikes del Pueblo is built on a foundation of education and self-sufficiency. Volunteer mechanic Leah Shoecraft sums up their services.

“If you have some issue with your bike, you bring it by and we’ll walk you through the steps on how to repair it. So in the future if that happens again, you’ll be able to do it yourself,” she said.

The organization has started to grow. It has more volunteers, it’s filed for nonprofit status and it has more donations of bike parts than it has storage space.

Currently, other than the four hours on Saturdays, Bikes del Pueblo resides in the basement and backyard of Clerc’s house. To continue to expand, the group took to the online social fundraising platform Indiegogo to raise enough money to move into their own venue in City Heights.

“We want to be open every day and help people fix their bikes every day,” said Clerc.

Ending their campaign on Tuesday night, Bikes del Pueblo is about a third way to their fundraising goal.

By Brian Myers
Editor: Megan Burks

[Disclosure: Brian Myers volunteered with Bikes del Pueblo from 2007 to 2008.]"
sandiego  cityheights  bikes  biking  bikesdelpueblo  2014  brianmyers  leahshoecraft  olivierclerc  erickmwesa 
september 2014 by robertogreco

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