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What Should San Diego Do With Its Old Downtown Library Building?

Above: San Diego's old Central Library building on E Street.

Aired 9/16/13 on KPBS News.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said that as the opening of the new library downtown approaches, he's also making plans for the old library building.

San Diego's new Central Library will open downtown at the end of the month. The nine-story building with its shiny silver dome is a new addition to San Diego's skyline. But the city isn't forgetting about the old Central Library building.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said at his media briefing last week that as the opening of the new library downtown approaches, he's also making other plans.

"As soon as we open up that new facility, I want to make sure we have a plan in place for the old facility, and make sure that we put it back into a useful life for the citizens, the taxpayers, and of course the residents of downtown," he said.

Gloria said he's asked Civic San Diego to collect ideas for what to do with the old 150,000 square foot building.

The nonprofit corporation will look into a process for soliciting bids, he said. The idea would be to find a way to reuse the old building now that the library has moved.

Gloria's spokeswoman said details and a timeline for the request for proposals will be released in three or four weeks.

The new 500,000 square foot library building will have a large auditorium, a three-story domed reading room, a courtyard and café. The e3 Civic High charter school will occupy the building's sixth and seventh floors.

Its opening on Sept. 28 will be like a street fair, Gloria said, with tens of thousands of San Diegans expected to come.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | September 16, 2013 at 1:39 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Soliciting bids, eh? Moving mighty quick.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | September 16, 2013 at 9:12 p.m. ― 3 years ago

The site is historical and has asbestos problems.

Using the $293 million in Affordable Housing assets, from the former CCDC Redevelopment Agency (RDA) including $32 million in cash, to turn the area into a Homeless Shelter with Women and Children.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | September 17, 2013 at 9:11 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Please no more homeless shelters. We need to start shipping back the homeless that father joes imports.

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | September 17, 2013 at 9:57 a.m. ― 3 years ago

I say retrofit the old library specifically for our homeless veterans.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 17, 2013 at 11:25 a.m. ― 3 years ago

A homeless shelter would be nice, but aren't they already building one downtown?

I think the old library building should be turned into a community arts space.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | September 17, 2013 at 12:05 p.m. ― 3 years ago

It already is a homeless shelter. They just sleep outside of it. I support letting them in. It is a smart long-term investment in the people of San Diego. (All of them, not just renters and homeowners.)

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | September 17, 2013 at 12:11 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Another homeless shelter is not a good idea unless it comes with a mandatory work program.

San Diego is already #3 in the nation for homeless and providing more free services will do nothing but attract more and magnify the problem.

There is a lack of affordable office space for non-profit orgs, especially downtown, so open it up to them. Or put city offices in there and stop leasing private space.

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Avatar for user 'lizawaz'

lizawaz | September 17, 2013 at 4:27 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Something definitely focused on the needs of homeless individuals. There are a little under 10, 000 homeless individuals (including entire families) in SD county. St. Vincent de Paul Village in East Village only has about 900 beds.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | September 17, 2013 at 5:42 p.m. ― 3 years ago


Too many mentally ill and disabled homeless to justify mandatory work. They are humans and we should seek to provide basic needs as cost effectively as possible.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | September 19, 2013 at 1:34 p.m. ― 3 years ago


Of course those who are mentally or physically disabled should not be required to work. However, they need to be placed in institutions that can provide proper care, not a shelter, church, etc.

This is a sticky situation, essentially prohibiting homelessness on the one side, but making sure they are cared for and the general public is protected on the other. Many nations in Europe do this which is the humane thing to do, not just letting them wander the streets until they die.

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