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Convoy District’s Vision To Become San Diego’s Next Great Neighborhood


Convoy District’s Vision To Become San Diego’s Next Great Neighborhood

Aired 9/25/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Ping Wang, Owner, Pangea Bakery and Co-Director of San Diego Night Market

Lorie Zapf, San Diego City Councilmember District 6


When neighborhoods become trendy, people visit and business improves. Just ask North Park, South Park and Little Italy.

Now, an often-overlooked neighborhood in San Diego is hoping to attract a little of that same magic.

San Diego's Convoy District is hosting its first night market this Saturday, part of a larger strategy to draw attention to the area.

The market will feature food and street vendors, a beer garden and entertainment.

“Following the successes of similar night markets that have spread through Vancouver, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, we are ecstatic to finally be able to bring this inaugural event to San Diego,” said Tim Nguyen, co-director of the Convoy District.

“The Convoy District is truly one of San Diego’s best kept secrets, and we want to change that. This event is just the first of many we are planning to highlight local businesses and showcase local artistic talent," he said.

The area, bound by the 805, 52 and 163 freeways, is probably most well-known for its block after block of strip malls. But community leaders want the area to become known as a cultural, dining and economic destination, with the added attraction of being home to San Diego's Asian-Pacific community,
including 200 Asian-American owned businesses.

"It's partly to honor our historical roots, partly to provide a cultural attraction point in San Diego,” said Ping Wang Co-Director of Convoy District, an organization of local entrepreneurs, business owners and community supporters dedicated to the growth and promotion of Convoy area.

Wang, owner of Pangea Bakery on Convoy Street, says the goal is to create San Diego's next great neighborhood by focusing on innovation, community investment, urban planning and global partnerships.

"It’s also about community leadership and speaking with one voice and organizing ourselves. That is something that other areas like Little Italy and North Park have proven and shown the way," said Wang.

Those areas area also Business Improvement Districts. Convoy area businesses have been working for the past two years on becoming a BID with the help of Councilwoman Lorie Zapf.

"It (Convoy District) needs some leadership, like they're providing, to pull the businesses together because they really have to vote and agree to do this as a community," she said.

Business Improvement Districts in the City of San Diego collect taxes and fees. The city collects those funds which are later distributed to pay for things like banner programs, festivals, bike racks, benches and tables. The city of San Diego has more than a dozen BID's.

But Zapf points out, the Convoy area faces some challenges.

"You'll never get away from the fact that you are on a big busy street it's not a cozy little India street like in Little Italy. But there are things that you can do with the money it just depends on how much they self-asses."

Plus, Zapf says, the process to become a BID is bureaucratic and requires the city council's approval.

Next year may bring new hopes for the Convoy area when voters elect a new council member. Due to redistricting Zapf now lives in District 2 and will be running for the seat.

The race to replace Zapf in District 6 is already looking to be exciting as the list of candidates are a diverse group of individuals.

"Who ever gets elected will actually bestow diversity on the City Council which has been sorely lacking for the past couple of decades. Asian Americans have been largely apolitical in many senses. We're trying to change that, " Wang said.

Saturday's Night Market:

DATE: Saturday, September 28th, 2013. TIME: 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM. LOCATION: Zion Marketplace East Parking Lot (Convoy St.).

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 25, 2013 at 10:41 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

It's a nice idea, but two problems:

(1) "forced" trendiness tends to come across as kitschy unlike neighborhoods that evolve more organically

(2) unlike the trendy neighborhoods mentioned in the article, this one is not in our central core and our lack of mass transit in general and in particular to this neighborhood makes it difficult to bring into our urban fold.

I actually like this area for its non-trendiness. I enjoy the vibe of a warehouse-packed industrial area interlaced with lively Asian American businesses.

It lends to a sort of off-beat commerce inspired atmosphere where the wonder of the stores with Asian-language signs intermingles with the curious mystery of signless box warehouses with large trucks out front as one ponders what kind of nondescript business is taking place here.

An import-export business handling some mundane good like chewing gum?

The world headquarters for the iconic American brand Tupperware with a smoky Kirean barbecue tucked behind it ?

Any, some may get what I'm saying.

Basically don't ruin it with a bunch of forced mainstream crap.

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Avatar for user 'progressivebuthey'

progressivebuthey | September 26, 2013 at 12:24 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

If you go into the 99 Market on Convoy, the conditions of the live fish is atrocious. You would think you were in third world country where animals are not only mistreated but tortured. Not a big fan of Asian markets and stores.

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Avatar for user 'Oceanside'

Oceanside | September 26, 2013 at 8:06 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

We’ve been known to travel all the way from Oceanside to have lunch or shop at the grocery stores in the Convoy Street area on a Saturday or Sunday. Why? Because you cannot find all of these interesting Asian stores and restaurants together in one area like this elsewhere in San Diego. But, the area is not very friendly to foot traffic, and there don’t seem to be many, if any, interesting events like this Night Market. So I, for one, although I am sure I am not the only one, am very glad to see the businesses and property owners organizing to promote the unique character of the area. This night market just fits nicely into this idea. And, the Business Improvement District is the way to go to help the area develop a more coherent character and develop a vision – for example to make this area more attractive for shopping and dining (I hope). I am really looking forward to seeing all the improvements to come. I like it!

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