It’s been three months since a small stretch of Date Street closed to traffic in Little Italy. A transformation is underway, as work continues on Piazza Famiglia and two mixed-use buildings.
When the new pedestrian plaza opens at the end of 2016, it’s expected to become a new centerpiece of the neighborhood.
Inspired by the traditional piazzas of Italy, the pedestrian corridor will be used for markets, performances, and special events. Public seating areas and a large fountain will be added, along with designated spaces for market vendors and stage areas.
The project is a collaboration between the Little Italy Association and developer H.G. Fenton.
Located on Date Street between India and Columbia, the piazza took over the space occupied on Saturday mornings by the Little Italy Mercato. The popular farmer’s market—our favorite in town—moved one block south to Cedar Street to allow for construction. The market will return to its home on Date Street once the new plaza opens.
Plans include a five-story building on the south side of the plaza and a seven-story building on the north side. Together, they’ll include 125 rental apartments and 17,820 square feet of retail space.
The proposed residential units are fairly small, ranging from 373-square-foot studios to 1,136-square-foot two-bedroom apartments.
We aren’t huge fans of the building designs shown in the renderings, but maybe they’ll surprise us.
In addition to resident parking, plans include 50 public parking spaces in an underground structure. The garage will be accessible from Columbia Street.
The west facade of the old San Diego Reader building still stands, as it will be incorporated into the north building.
The plan is to restore the facade’s original transom windows, which are currently covered in stucco. Those are additional horizontal windows that used to be above the ones you see boarded up. They’ll be rehabilitated to allow more light into the new building.
The Little Italy Association plans to host a number of other events throughout the year in the new Piazza Famiglia, such as the Little Italy FESTA! and ArtWalk.
Similar in concept, Piazza Basilone was dedicated in 2003 just one block north. Much smaller than the planned Piazza Famiglia, it’s always a popular spot to relax and catch some sun.
The annual Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village relocated to this plaza in 2014, but will return to its home on Date Street once the new piazza is complete.
Princess Pub will be the only remaining building on the block, seen above at bottom right. So, no worries—you’ll still be able to get your drink on while Piazza Famiglia is under construction.