A rendering of the future Palomar Heights. Photo credit: Courtesy, Integral Communities

Construction is set to begin on Palomar Heights, a mixed-use community in downtown Escondido that will take the place of the old Palomar Hospital.

The work kicks off early Friday with the demolition of the medical facility, which officials slated for closure in 2015.

The new development will include a mix of commercial and residential space and be anchored by a 75-foot landmark commercial building on Grand Avenue.

That building is set to feature a restaurant and lounge with 360-degree views of the city, while the residential mix includes 258 multifamily rentals, 162 for-sale townhomes and 90 other apartments.

“Palomar Heights will deliver a variety of housing types to meet the needs of a diverse population and bring new residents and liveliness to downtown Escondido,” said Lance Waite, principal of the developer, Integral Communities.

Integral’s team, based in Encinitas, applied to pursue the project in 2017.

The company argues that the project not only will provide housing in a tight regional market, but also serve as “an economic multiplier” by increasing patronage for existing businesses, while also spurring job creation and property tax revenue.

A historical photo of the old Palomar Hospital. Photo credit: Courtesy, Integral Communities

Studies show that Palomar Heights will generate nearly $800,000 in annual general fund revenue for the city of Escondido.

“Palomar Heights is going to be a great start to the rebirth of Grand Avenue, which is so desperately needed,” said Jill Reilly, owner of Cute Cakes Bakery & Café in downtown Escondido.

The commercial building, dubbed the Icon Tower, is also set to include a retail farmers market, collaborative work spaces and a gym.

The developer describes the design, created by by SummA Architecture, as “contemporary with a modern art deco design style that pays homage to the historic architectural values of downtown Escondido, such as those incorporated at Escondido City Hall.”

The hospital was once the the site of city hall and Hotel Escondido.

“We used key architectural elements from the original buildings to design Palomar Heights’ iconic tower as an homage to the site’s legacy,” said Damian Taitano, principal at SummA.

Plans for the residences include a resort-style pool, a splash pad for water-play options, a BBQ lookout and lounge area, gym, dog park and public art installation.

Plazas featuring local art will be located on the east and west corners of Grand and at the intersection of Valley Parkway and Valley Boulevard.

Local artists will be chosen in the fall.

Melissa Walker, owner of Distinction Gallery, located a block and a half from the Palomar Heights site, called it “the final link needed to create the scenario where people live, work, shop and play downtown.

“That’s something so many of us business owners have been talking about and desiring for many years,” she said.

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