Planners receptive to landowner’s town square vision

By Karen Brainard

Picture a town square with people strolling about, visiting with each other or dining at sidewalk cafes, and children fishing at a nearby pond. That’s a vision that Jim Hagey has for Ramona.

Jim Hagey talks to Ramona planners about his ideas for a town square at Elliott Pond. Hagey owns the pond and the 20 acres bordered by Ramona, H and 16th streets. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

“I’ve been thinking about this for many years and I wanted to get your take on it,” Hagey told the Ramona Community Planing Group at its Jan. 9 meeting.

Hagey owns 20 acres  behind the Stater Bros. shopping center in the 1600 block of Main Street. His property is bordered by Ramona, H and 16th streets.

He bought the land 14 years ago with ideas for a walkable community consisting of residential and retail, but numerous issues have impeded the development. Now, he said, any homes he built would have to sell for at least $450,000, and because he believes that price won’t sell, he is focusing on retail.

“We just want to make a place where people want to come,” he said. “I do believe a town square would be a terrific thing for Ramona.”

He would like at least six acres set aside for a town square that would highlight the pond on the site known as  Elliott Pond. That would leave 14 acres in the southern section of the property for the possible development of a big box store such as a Target or Trader Joe’s or a retail anchor store. Hagey said he would need a large retailer on his property to make the town square concept viable.

Central to Hagey’s town square would be about four sidewalk cafes with tables outside so patrons could order food from the different restaurants but sit together. He does not want any large restaurant chains unless they could work with his model. The pond would be visible in the distance when sitting outside the cafes, he said.

An aerial view shows the location of Elliott Pond. Courtesy of Jim Hagey

A soda fountain, wine bar, brew pub and art gallery are other ideas he has for the town square, along with activities such as outdoor plays, bowling, free Wi-Fi, feeding ducks and fishing. Hagey said he wants activities for all ages and has ideas that fill 28 pages, single-spaced. He would also like to build a tower where people could walk up and look over Ramona.

The property owner said he has talked to teenagers who tell him they need a place to meet, instead of hanging out in fast food parking lots or creek beds.

He has not totally eliminated residential, as he believes it’s important to have people living near stores and restaurants. One idea is to have about 10 townhouse units at the town square.

Hagey wants to keep Elliott Pond rural-looking with its cattails, and the development to fit in with Ramona.

“My ideas have not come from me; they’ve come from Ramona,” he said.

According to Hagey, his property is zoned for a mixed use development.

Rendering courtesy of Jim Hagey

Planners were receptive to the ideas and applauded Hagey for his efforts but posed a few possible challenges.

Carl Hickman said the pond that was developed in Eastlake in Chula Vista was great for the first 10 years but then began to have biological issues and has become an eyesore.

Hagey noted that Elliott Pond was originally created to raise turtles. The pond was dug in 1944, according to a Ramona Sentinel article that year.

Planner Scotty Ensign pointed out that in wet weather the pond floods onto Ramona Street and Hagey would probably have to work with the county to fix that.

Parking was also discussed and how to incorporate it so that it would not be highly visible in front of retail, which does not fit in with the walkable community model.

Jim Hagey includes a malt shop and a tower to look over Ramona in this rendering of a proposed town square for Elliott Pond. Rendering courtesy of Jim Hagey

“We want this as walkable as possible and make it look like 1940,” Hagey said.

He told the Sentinel his next step will be to talk to real estate brokers about  a retail anchor or big box store.

Related posts:

  1. Planners warm up to affordable housing concept
  2. Planners critique affordable housing proposed behind Kmart
  3. Elliott Pond: for the birds, ducks & other waterfowl
  4. Planners laud proposed farm store design concept
  5. Ramona planners favor central location of proposed apartments

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Posted by Staff on Jan 15 2014. Filed under Featured Story, Government, News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Comments for “Planners receptive to landowner’s town square vision”

  1. Dennis Lambert

    This is truly wonderful and beautiful. I would love to see this dream become a reality. Unfortunately something awesome as this has numerous natural enemies in Ramona. If this goes anything beyond just a good idea, it's pretty much a tragic reality that there's going to be a protracted trench war with CFARR, the Mussey Grade Alliance and the rest of the CAVE (Constantly Against Virtually Everything) people of Ramona. Ramona has such potential, but sadly unless something amazing happens, it's pretty much doomed to remain the drive-thru hick-town that it is.

  2. Joe Cahak

    You are so spot on the critism against CFARR etc. A major reason for the south bypass was to make downtown more open to parking, pedestrian traffic and easy getting around downtown. The high volume of traffic downtown is making it unsafe for pedestrians and certainly inconvenient for parking. Ramona is not a very walk-able community. If you listen toCFARR and Joe Minervini, you would think main street will lose all business if we do the south by pass. Nothing is further from the truth. In my opine, Mr. Minervini and CFARR have another agenda than community concern.

  3. Parent

    So here is a guy who is taking a big risk, wants to improve the area and hopefully make some money in the process. Sounds pretty gosh darn American if you ask me.

  4. Joe Minervini

    There goes Cahak again talking about something he hasn’t thought out. I’ve asked him to debate me in public on the South Bypass issue. He prefers to hide behind his keyboard. Cahak prefers to support a project like the Elliot Pond project. Do any of you who favor this project realize it will abut some residential dwellings ? Do any of you realize that our downtown Main Street is dying because it doesn’t have much support from people like Cahak. Dennis Lambert, I will try to reach you by phone so that I can invite you to a debate on this Elliot Pond issue
    Joe 619/204-0391

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