By Ken Williams | Editor
What does the future hold for this Mission Valley mainstay?
As Hazard Center in Mission Valley prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary on Sept. 26, general manager Lisa Gualco gives a glimpse of what might happen in the future.
Representatives of Hazard Center in 2009 appeared before the Mission Valley Planning Group, which has approved a large residential project on the 14.52-acre site.
“The owners of Hazard Center have entitlements for approximately 470 residential units over two phases, but have been focused on other improvements to the center and on upgrading the tenant mix,” Gualco said last week. “The entitlements are still planned, but no specific timeline has been established or determined.”
That project’s completion would add almost 1,000 residents to Mission Valley, based on SANDAG projections of 2.1 people per household in 2020.
A public park totaling .63 acre would be added during the construction phase, scheduled to be dedicated to the city.
Gualco also addressed rumors that the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas might be closing.
“The original owners of UltraStar have returned to operating the theater and are doing very well,” she said. “They have recently made numerous improvements, including new seating, new finishes and an expanded concession stand with a larger menu.”
The UltraStar Cinema plays host to the annual San Diego Asian Film Festival, the city’s most profitable film festival and a huge draw to Hazard Center.
Hazard Center will be impacted when transportation agencies begin re-doing the Friars Road interchange with state Route 163, and Gualco explained how.
“Hazard Center will lose a few parking spaces along the north side of the property, but ultimately the new intersection will be a big improvement for traffic circulation around the property and for Mission Valley,” she said. “We are working closely with the city to ensure that access to the property is not impacted during construction.”
Gualco has been working at Hazard Center for more than a decade, and has noticed how Mission Valley has changed.
“I have been the general manager at Hazard Center for almost 14 years. In that time, I’ve seen Mission Valley really become an area where San Diegans can live, work and play. The top shopping in San Diego is located in Mission Valley and the San Diego River Park Foundation’s dedicated efforts are really making the river the center of the city,” she said.
Gualco discussed the demographics for Hazard Center, but is unclear how many visitors come from out of town.
“We have a pretty equal mix of men and women who live and work within about a 10-mile radius of Hazard Center. We offer something for every age, which is reflected in our customer base that ranges from students up to seniors. We don’t have specific information regarding how many of our customers are tourists,” she said.
Hazard Center is within easy driving distance of interstates 5, 8 and 805 as well as state routes 15 and 163. Some customers arrive by the trolley, which conveniently stops outside the complex.
“Hazard Center visitors do take the trolley to get here. While the majority of guests take their cars or walk over from neighboring businesses, quite a few utilize the trolley,” Gualco said. “And, since we also offer free trolley parking on our lower level for visitors headed to the Padres and Chargers games and during Comic-Con, we see a lot of guests taking advantage of this convenience and visiting our restaurants and other tenants while they’re here. These visitors most likely live within a 10-mile radius of Hazard Center.
“The DoubleTree Hotel Mission Valley also has numerous guests who take the trolley from the train station and to and from the airport and the convention center,” Gualco added.
This month, Gualco is focused on the 25th anniversary celebration on Sept. 26. The party will be from 1 to 3 p.m. around the “Pappy” Hazard statue at Hazard Center, located at 7510-7610 Hazard Center Drive. Prizes, giveaways, crafts, refreshments and entertainment will be on tap. Roscoe E. “Pappy” Hazard is known as “Mr. San Diego” to many people, who remember him for building many of the highways we drive on today, such as Friars Road and Cabrillo Freeway.
AJ from Energy 103.7 will emcee the festivities. Winners of the selfie contest will get free tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Padres and other activities. The first 25 guests to arrive will get a tote bag containing a pair of tickets to the UltraStar theater and a free selfie stick.
Hazard Center is also partnering with the San Diego River Park Foundation to provide goodie bags with gift certificates and giveaways to the first 25 people who donate $20 to the foundation’s “Give a Tree” program. A donation will provide for one native tree to be planted at a park or open space along the San Diego River. Hazard Center has worked with the foundation since 2008, Gualco said.
“This anniversary marks a major milestone for Hazard Center’s 25-year journey,” she added. “We’re excited to celebrate with customers who have helped make Hazard Center a success, and look forward to what the next 25 years will bring.”
To read more about the Hazard Center housing project, go to tinyurl.com/ojak2pd.
—Ken Williams is editor of Mission Valley News and San Diego Uptown News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952.