Five years later, construction of mixed-use development project in Kensington has begun

Construction of Kensington Commons has begun, five years after residents agreed to drop a lawsuit filed over environmental concerns.

Construction has begun on three-story mixed-use development Kensington Commons. The presence of bulldozers and earth movers at the corner of Adams Avenue and Marlborough Road is a sight that many Kensington neighbors tried desperately to avoid.

In March 2008, a group of Kensington residents filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego over Kensington Commons, then Kensington Terraces, for insufficient environmental review, for faulty traffic studies, demolition of a historic house on Edgeware Road, and for exceeding the height limit.

Just three months after the lawsuit was filed, the two sides reached a settlement. Residents dropped the lawsuit and in exchange the developers, Allard Jansen and Terrace Partners, agreed to reduce the height, and scale down the size of the project.

At the time residents celebrated the victory on the website Kensington Terrace Info, "We followed the process and excercised our rights as residents of the State of California, under the California Environmental Quality Act. Because as residents of the City of San Diego we are treated like arrogant outsiders by our neighbor down the street, the Mayor [Jerry Sanders], we had to do it ourselves."

Now, five years later demolition and grading work is being conducted just east of the Kensington community sign.

"The new building has been significantly scaled back and no longer requires a zoning variance or deviation in the CN-1-3 (30 foot) zone," reads a mass email from community planner and Heart of Kensington member John Garrison to members of the community asking about the project.

"It is now to be reduced from 56,000 square feet to 49,000 and will have only retail and housing, no office space. Since the new project complies with zoning requirements and has lower expected traffic counts, etc, the developer is not required to bring the project back to [the Kensington Talmadge Planning Group].

City documents obtained through a public records request show that demolition permits were obtained on May 7 to tear down the gas station that stood at the corner of Marlborough and Adams Avenue. The scope of the project, reads the permit, is for a "new mixed-use building that has retail and parking garage on street level and 34 apartment units on the second and third level."

Additional information, however, has been hard to come by for residents of Kensington.

"We are in touch with the developer and have asked for documents to describe the new project design, planned tenants, schedule, etc," added Garrison's email. "[Jansen] has stated those are still too premature to share formally but that he may be able to provide us something shortly."

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