Former indoor skydiving facility to become homeless hub
As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, the city of San Diego has purchased a former indoor skydiving facility for $7 million, with plans to renovate it into a center for the homeless. The three-story downtown building will be remodeled in order to become a place for the homeless population of San Diego to get assistance regarding a variety of necessities.
Formerly a facility for Airborne San Diego, the 26,000 square foot building was built on two vacant lots at 14th street and Imperial Avenue. The man behind the venture, Alan “Buzz” Fink, is an experienced businessman in San Diego with a love for flying. The endeavor, however, never picked up, with the project unfortunately sinking beneath high costs, lawsuits, and design problems. When the financial backing fell through, the property was transferred to Imperial Holding Co. LLC, owned by the John M. Tworoger Trust.
While critics are saying the property is not worth anywhere near the $7 million price tag, due to the extensive amount of furniture, fixtures, and equipment already installed, it will serve well as a new place to connect homeless people with guidance in finding permanent residences and other various services. “That’s the main purpose of this facility, to provide a space to connect homeless people with supportive services,” said Jonathan Herrera, a senior adviser to Mayor Faulconer.
Officials will to think outside the box during renovations, as the wind tunnels take up a significant portion of the square footage. There are two areas with lockers used for storing belongings, partial industrial kitchens, training rooms, and a west-facing terrace on the top story. Several rooms housing thousands of square feet of equipment meant to operate the wind tunnels will be practically unusable unless major renovation occurred. Despite this, Herrera says “We’re going to have to get creative, but there’s plenty of opportunity here.”
San Diego hopes for the facility to become a main hub for homeless people to enroll in various services, including veterans assistance, Social Security benefits, housing, or obtaining a driver’s license. Whoever wins the bid to operate the facility will work closely with the city of San Diego in order to maximize to amount of aid given to the homeless population. According to the proposals distributed by the city, the winning bidder will agree to operate the facility for seven days a week, and will receive $1.5 million from the city every year for the next five years.