When construction started in September 2016 in the Village Shopping Center parking lot east of the Jack in the Box, people were curious about what was coming to the center located at the northwest corner of Lake Murray Boulevard and El Paso Street.
As construction continued on the 0.28-acre parcel, it became evident that the new addition to the 4.8-acre center was a larger Jack in the Box. The 2159-square-foot eatery opened in January 2017, and people wondered about the fate of the 736-square-foot Jack in the Box that city planner Chis Jacobs said opened in 1962. The building valuation was $9000.
The question about the building’s future was answered when two City of La Mesa panels approved proposals related to plans to demolish the older Jack in the Box and construct a 1616-square-foot building that would be leased to Starbucks. The design review board on February 27 approved parcel owner HF-HRI, LLC’s plan to construct the coffeehouse with a drive-through on the 0.43-acre parcel. Also proposed was a 300-square-foot outdoor seating area, an element that required a special permit. The permit application was on the planning commission’s March 15 agenda.
At the meeting, commission chairman Jim Newland (a historian and La Mesa Historical Society president) pointed out that the building wasn’t in the city’s Historic Resources Inventory. He asked if anyone was consulted about that. The staff report stated the applicant submitted “technical reports including a historic building assessment” and reports “available under a separate cover, have been reviewed and accepted by the staff.”
1980 Jack in the Box ad
1980 Jack in the Box ad
Lee told commissioners the building was structurally altered during the 1980s. That change included replacing outdoor seating with a glassed-in enclosure. (Another change, the removal of the Jack in the Box clown, was promoted in a 1980 commercial. After an announcer said Jack in the Box would be known for its “great new food,” the clown was blown up.)
When commissioner Michele Hottel asked why commissioners didn’t receive the review, Lee said it was “literally 100 pages.” Newland said in the future those documents should be sent electronically. Jacobs said the report concluded the building wasn’t a significant historic resource.
At the hearing, the only people signed up to speak were Hamo Rostamian, president of HRI Development, and architect Ken McKently. Both answered commissioners’ questions about issues including drive-through traffic. Patrons of the older Jack in the Box who entered the center at the Lake Murray Boulevard/Dallas Street signal drove behind the building where the menu was posted on a wall. Drivers then made a hairpin turn to place their orders. McKently said Starbucks patrons will turn right on Lake Murray Boulevard and then turn right to enter the drive-through line.
Commissioners unanimously approved the permit for outdoor seating “screened by [metal] guard rails, and partially shaded by umbrellas, awnings, and landscaping.” Starbucks estimated approximately 50 jobs will be created in “various capacities and shifts,” according to Rostamian’s December 20, 2016, letter to the commission. After the hearing, Rostamian said construction will start in the “next couple months” with the goal of completion in August or September.
According to staff reports, the center has two owners. The Chabra Trust owns two parcels totaling 3.9 acres; that land includes the Ross discount clothing store. The Mark Elbert Trust owns the 0.9-acre parcel northeast of Ross. Tenants include the Book Place and Partners Urgent Care Grossmont.
Details in this story were drawn from City of La Mesa staff reports, a March 17 email from associate planner Howard Lee, and a phone interview that day with senior planner Chris Jacobs.