Three representatives of Lindsay Heights recently visited San Diego’s Market Creek Plaza, a resident-owned commercial development that could be a model for the proposed Lindsay Heights Innovation & Wellness Commons (the Commons).
Sharon Adams, Larry Adams and Francesca Dawson, all from Walnut Way, traveled to San Diego for the Connecting Communities Learning Exchange conference hosted by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI). JCNI is a nonprofit foundation that works with the Jacobs Family Foundation to build stronger neighborhoods through entrepreneurial projects and creative investment.
“The purpose of the gathering was to strengthen our individual and collective impact by sharing our vision and successes and creating bridges on our most challenging work,” said Sharon Adams, Walnut Way CEO.
Walnut Way Conservation Corp.’s vision is to transform an underdeveloped stretch of six city blocks into a community wellness commons that would help create economic prosperity within Lindsay Heights. The Commons would be energy efficient, and offer space for retail, businesses and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, it will promote health and wellness, child development, and economic development and research, according to Adams.
The Commons is projected to be about 25,000 square feet. Walnut Way is in the process of evaluating potential properties.
The San Diego conference highlighted what it takes to stay focused when tackling an aggressive plan such as the Commons. “This transformative work requires collective and sustained action,” Adams said.
JCNI stressed the importance of resident financial ownership, a comprehensive commercial and housing development plan, long-term committed funding, strong multi-cultural integration and intentional spiritual awareness, Adams noted. The meeting also provided an opportunity to gauge challenges ahead, such as developing resident-based leadership, she added.
Market Creek Plaza is the first completed project in JCNI’s larger plan to turn about 60 unused, untended and underutilized acres into The Village at Market Creek that will include affordable housing, a conference and community center, educational hubs and retail establishments, according to the plan. The Market Creek development is located in southeastern San Diego in an under-invested community called Diamond Neighborhoods.
The San Diego visit gave the Lindsay Heights delegation a first-hand look at what residents can accomplish in their own communities. “We are inspired,” said Adams. “Our hearts (are) renewed.”