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San Diego To Take First Steps In Finding New Use For Old Downtown Library

Photo by Matthew Bowler

San Diego's former central library sits vacant as city leaders decide how to redevelop the facility, Feb. 16, 2015.

The city of San Diego Monday will take the first step in finding a new use for the old downtown Central Library building when it releases a "Request for Information" document to potentially interested organizations.

The building at 820 E St. has been vacant for about a year-and-a-half, since the new Central Library opened near Petco Park.

City Deputy Chief Operating Officer David Graham said universities, start-up companies, life sciences firms and nonprofits have contacted city officials about the availability of the three-story structure.

"One of the main reasons that we went with the idea of doing an RFI is actually because there are so many diverse interests, both long-term and short- term," Graham said during a City Council's hearing on Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

City officials have also conducted an assessment of the building's condition and upgrades that will be needed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to Graham.

He said a significant investment will be needed to improve the building, though specific dollar figures won't be part of the initial process.

The city of San Diego will issue the RFI jointly with Civic San Diego, which assists the city with downtown development projects. The document will be posted on the Civic San Diego website, will be linked to from the mayor's web page, will be sent to organizations that have previously expressed interest, and will be delivered to Civic's general distribution list.

Reese Jarrett, the Civic San Diego president, said the responses due 45 days after the RFI is issued will give officials a good idea of how to reactivate the space.

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