July 3 2013 02:03 PM

We have our eyes on these eight places, because something cool is-or may soon be-happening there

You Got Mail, in progress
Photo by Kelly Davis

1 Ocean Discovery Institute's Living Lab: It might seem odd that this is being built in City Heights—in Manzanita Canyon, just east of where the 805 and 15 freeways meet. But the area's linked up to San Diego Bay via nearby Chollas Creek and the Pueblo watershed, making it an ideal spot to learn about ecological connectivity. Designed by architect Rob Quigley, whose credits include the New Children's Museum, Balboa Park Activity Center and new Central Library, and with landscaping by Spurlock Pourier (New Children's Museum park, garden for Do Ho Suh's Falling Star at UCSD), the Living Lab will be an 11,000-square-foot facility with an educational center, research labs and exhibition space, plus an additional 35,000 square feet of outdoor trails and native plants. —Kelly Davis

Cannonball: Soon, wandering through Belmont Park in Mission Beach won't make you feel like you're stuck in a post-apocalyptic movie in which the world continues on by duct-taping together old remnants and pretending as if nothing's wrong. The tiki-themed mini-golf course is just the beginning of what the new owners of the old amusement park are calling a complete revitalization. Another big step is reimagining the oceanfront building that once housed Cane's Bar & Grill (3105 Ocean Front Walk). Cannonball, a 6,000-square-foot, sushi-and-small-plate restaurant and bar, is set to open this month. The design theme is swimming pool: Think poolside-style furniture and walls lined in tiles and a blue-pebble finish. Next up on the list of Belmont Park remodels is Wavehouse Beach Club, North Shore Café, Belmonty's Burgers and Plunge Pizzeria. —Kinsee Morlan

You Got Mail: Foundation for Form is back with another urban mixed-use project that takes advantage of an abandoned structure (in January, we highlighted You Are Here, on 25th Street in Golden Hill, which incorporated the service bays—for arts and retail space—from an old Texaco station). You Got Mail, at Grim Avenue and North Park Way, is anchored by the mid-century North Park post office, which closed last year due to postal-service cutbacks. The project, which should be completed in a year or so, will include 33 apartment units—mostly studios and one-bedrooms—and 5,000 square feet of commercial space. —Kelly Davis


4 Citronica: Lemon Grove ain't the coolest kid in the classroom. But the city's newest development, Citronica One and Citronica Two, designed by Foundation For Form (see: "You Got Mail" above), is definitely a step toward sprucing up a city best known for a giant, gaudy concrete lemon. The two new buildings stand big and bold at the corner of Lemon Grove Avenue and Broadway. Citronica One is an affordable-housing project and Citronica Two will be the city's first LEEDcertified senior housing project. There's retail space in both buildings that will soon open up onto the under-construction Lemon Grove Main Street Promenade. What will fill that retail space and help activate the new promenade? Any new business at all, quite frankly, will help turn Lemon Grove into lemonade. —Kinsee Morlan

Sea & Smoke: The new restaurant from Urban Solace's Matt Gordon at the Flower Hill Promenade, in northern San Diego just east of Del Mar, is scheduled to open in early July. In addition to chef / owner Gordon, the place will feature the considerable talents of executive pastry chef Jeff Bonilla, late of Kitchen1450, who'll be in charge of desserts, breakfasts and breads. The Sea & Smoke menu, like the restaurant itself, is built around a centerpiece wood-fired oven, with a variety of meats and seafood offerings. The principal culinary drama will be the influence of that central hearth on Gordon's signature modern American style. —Michael A. Gardiner

The parklet: North Park doesn't have a lot of lounge space. There are plenty of craft-cocktail bars and all-organic eateries, but there isn't anywhere to sit, eat a homemade sandwich and soak up some sunshine with a book. That will change soon, when a parklet opens in front of Caffe Calabria (3933 30th St.). The business-advocacy group North Park Main Street (NPMS) has plans for a small park offering open benches and table seating under a shade structure designed by architect Christopher Bittner. It will take up two parking spots. NPMS's Angela Landsberg, who spearheaded the project, believes it will promote walkability, support neighborhood businesses and allow people to "be outside and enjoy the city." —Alex Zaragoza

1654 India St.: In checking with architecture and urban-planning folks while putting this feature together, this Little Italy address came up a couple times. It's the site of the newest project by Consortium Holdings (Craft & Commerce, Neighbor hood, Underbelly, Noble Experiment, Polite Provisions), whose bar-and-restaurant empire is starting to rival the Cohn Family. Back in November, U-T San Diego and San Diego Magazine reported on Consortium acquiring the warehouse space formerly occupied by fencing company Ironside. "It's going to be our most ambitious project yet," Consortium's president, Arsalun Tafazoli, told SD Mag's Troy Johnson. But Tafazoli's refusing to say anything beyond that. Information on file with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control lists the business as "Morning Glory." And, last month, a banner appeared on the building: "Protest against the rising tide of conformity. This is a Consortium project." Deep. We'll ponder the meaning while you keep an eye on this address. —Kelly Davis

A rendering of County Administration Center
Waterfront Park

The waterfront: If you've been to Chicago's Millennium Park, you probably felt waterfront envy. Indeed, San Diego's waterfront ain't what it could be. But it's getting there. While it's no secret that a waterfront overhaul is in the works, it's tough to keep track of what'll be done when. On deck are three projects: County Administration Center Waterfront Park, which will replace eight acres of parking lot with grass, trees, fancy gardens and interactive water fountains, has a scheduled completion date of spring 2014. The first phase of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, which includes an expanded waterfront promenade and more park space, is looking at a similar finish date. If you're itchy for something sooner, the old San Diego Police Department Headquarters (at Kettner Boulevard and Harbor Drive), a designated historic structure that's been empty for more than two-dozen years, will reopen this October as "The Headquarters," with restaurants, retail and outdoor plazas. —Kelly Davis


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