Greater Golden Hill CDC bestows awards on community leaders, businesses
By Kris Grant
A woman who persevered to save a local canyon, a restaurateur who has worked around the clock on community clean-up projects and a young businessman who helped put Golden Hill on the map of “hip” with trendy bars and restaurants were the “Renewal through Preservation” honorees by the Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation (CDC).
The awards were presented at the Greater Golden Hill CDC’s second annual gala celebration, held this year at Alchemy, the event’s title sponsor, which closed its doors on a Saturday night to the public in order to host the event.
“It just goes to show you what tremendous local support we have in this community,” said Pedro Anaya, executive director of the organization. “Alchemy not only gave us the venue, the entertainment and connected us to the wine and beer sponsors but also provided the staff and the menu at a greatly reduced price.”
Tershia D’ Elgin received the “Building Community through Service” award. D’Elgin and her “Friends of 32nd Street Canyon” have worked for more than seven years to preserve and re-establish one of Greater Golden Hill’s largest natural assets. Through her endeavors, the canyon has morphed from an illegal dumping ground to a natural and educational resource that today is enjoyed by many. Elementary school children make trips into the canyon and learn about the challenges of urban canyon recovery and wetlands awareness.
Finalists for this award included Chris Yanov and Maureen Ceccarelli. Yanov is the founder and executive director of Reality Changers, with a mission of providing inner-city youth with the resources and motivation to become first-generation college graduates. Yanov has raised more than $1 million in scholarships for local youth. Ceccarelli has been in business in South Park for more than 22 years and as a member of the South Park Business Group she has helped organize South Park walkabouts and for the past seven years has served on the South Park Old House Fair committee; chairing the committee the past two years.
Giorgino’s Deli was selected as the Golden Hill “Local Business of the Year.” Mario Rosales, owner of Giorgino’s Deli (known for having the best Philly Cheesesteak in town), has worked closely with city officials to bring diagonal parking to the commercial corridor of 28th Street and to address parking issues in general. Rosales has improved its space and worked with the community in community clean-ups and in removing graffiti and trash and reporting it to the city as well.
Finalists for local business of the year included So Childish and Alchemy. So Childish is a children’s boutique opened by Leyla Chaves in “a building at 30th and Grape that has seen so many businesses come and go over the years,” said Anaya. “Chaves took a huge chance and her trendy boutique has now become a neighborhood hub for parents and their kids.” Alchemy turned a former eyesore corner into one of 30th Street’s most popular destinations. The restaurant has supported local organizations like CDC and the Albert Einstein Academy, with which it looks forward to implementing an after-school program in the fall.
The “Renewal through Preservation” award went to Sam Chammas, who has been a “collector of bars,” according to the CDC. His collection, which includes The Turf Club, the Whistle Stop, Krakatoa and the Station — has impacted the physical, cultural and business landscape of Golden Hill.
A finalist in the category was Sandor Shapery, principal of Shapery Enterprises, involved in the ownership, design, and development of projects including historic preservation developments throughout the county. He is responsible for the development and restoration of the South Park business district 30th Street complex and “Fire Station #9.”
The association also presented its first “Lifetime Membership” to Pat Martin.
“Pat is the person who started it all,” said Anaya. “She organized kids into “Trash Tigers” to participate in community clean-ups. She started these before the community ever had a maintenance assessment district. She did this when it wasn’t the fashionable thing to do.”
San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria (District 3) and Council President Ben Hueso (District 8) presented the awards. Gloria, who had held a community coffee gathering at Alchemy earlier in the day, remarked, “The best part of my job is getting out and meeting my constituents. And one thing I can say about residents of Golden Hill is that they are really, really engaged. And that’s important because in difficult times, we have to work together and you always show up.”
Hueso, who lives in Logan Heights and represents the area of Golden Hill south of A Street, also had positive words about the community. “This is where I lived when my wife Laura and I started our family.” Hueso related that the first time he attended a Greater Golden Hill CDC meeting, he told the group he had issues about a neighboring house, where suspicious activity occurred at all hours, but he wasn’t sure how to proceed. “I went to the meeting and expressed my concerns and the very next day the police were there making an arrest. The family had been stealing electricity directly from the poles, there were about six or seven stolen cars there and they carted out several marijuana plants.
“It’s about neighborhoods stepping up and saying ‘this is how we want to live and we want to improve things,’” Hueso said, commending the group for it ongoing efforts.
Alchemy’s dinner included an organic green salad, local sea-bass ceviche and market-fresh lasagna. Stone Brewing Company supplied the beer for the evening, “Agent for Change” winery of Paso Robles was the wine sponsor and the Daily Scoop ice cream parlor was the dessert sponsor.
The Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation serves the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Golden Hill, Morse, Orange Park, Seaman & Choates and South Park. The corporation operates a 33-unit affordable housing complex and two duplexes providing high quality, affordable living for families and also provides tickets to local family events including sporting events, music and theatre through its “Golden Tickets for Kids” program.
The CDC sponsors bi-monthly business mixers giving established, new and prospective businesses in the area a chance to mix and mingle. It has partnered with the city of San Diego to form a maintenance district to address key issues of safety, infrastructure maintenance and beautification and it facilitates several projects led by its community partners, including the Golden Hill Community Project, the Critical Hours After-School Program and Youth Education Town, the Golden Hill Community Garden and the South Park Old House Fair.
The CDC is dedicated to breathing new life into the community through its revitalization, ensuring that community needs, green building practices and respect for the area’s rich architectural history are included in design work. The CDC works to enforce that designs approved through the Golden Hill Planning Committee are enforced. The organization is currently focused on the revitalization of 25th Street, home to several notable area restaurants including the Turf Club, Luigi’s, and Golden Hill Café. z