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National City to consider redeveloping vacant buildings into affordable housing, retail

Those passing by may notice two abandoned lots, one that is a rusty old building that used to be the trophy lounge bar.

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. — A parcel of land that has been vacant and unused for years could now become a mixed used development.

Part of the property is owned by a private developer and the property next to the National City Chamber of Commerce building, which also includes an abandoned lot, is owned by the state redevelopment agencies.

The two vacant lots are located near the north eastern corner of National City Boulevard and Plaza Boulevard.

Those passing by may notice two abandoned lots, one that is a rusty old building that used to be the trophy lounge bar. Adjacent to it, is a grassy field and an unused building that once served as an education center. 

Credit: CBS 8

Councilmember Ron Morrison says it's been vacant for eight years and adds that it's because of the former Governor, Jerry Brown’s redevelopment program. 

However, now the city, a private developer, and Southwestern college say these two properties have potential.

“As we were talking about all the possibilities and what we could have and what we wanted to have, housing was at the top,” said Mayor Alejandra Sotelo Solis.

With the homeless population growing, that project will bring additional affordable housing to the area.

Redeveloping won't be easy

Right now a developer owns one lot and is hoping to get ownership of  the lot next to it to expand the buildings width.

“They will build right here straight up, but they would rather have that to build a much larger project that would be more economic to build, you have more footprint,” said Mayor Solis.

Redevelopment won’t be easy since the second lot is owned by the state and needs to go through several steps.

“When you partner with another institution, like any city parcel that is owned, It must meet a certain statute. It needs a certain level which is one, a government entity, two, an educational institution because you can't just give away the land,” said Solis. 

Student housing

Southwestern College is also hoping to get ownership and hopes it will be used for student housing. 

However, Councilmember Morrison said the private developer could very well start the project because of their experience in that line of work. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Alejandra Solis says bringing affordable housing to the downtown area is top priority, but so is revitalizing it. 

Adding that decades back, the downtown area was known for its bad reputation and was not welcoming to families. 

“Back in the day National City used to be known as the mile of bars and it evolved because the people said stop, let's make these spaces more for restaurants,” said Mayor Solis. 

National city is in a July recess, but come August the proposal will be discussed even further. 

WATCH RELATED: Coronado, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach, and Solana Beach lose legal battle over affordable housing.

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