Downtown Vista Paseo Santa Fe Project completed after 6 years in the works

Written by Justin Culetu 

The city of Vista has reported that the $20.2 million Paseo Santa Fe improvement project has been completed. The 0.8-mile corridor between Vista Village and Civic Center Drive, which is home to numerous businesses and restaurants, had its final touches finished in December. 

In May 2014, the Paseo Santa Fe corridor began to see a multitude of improvement projects such as undergrounding of utility lines, narrowing of the road from four lanes to two, two new roundabout traffic circles, new sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping, a veterans memorial park, public art pieces, and two arched “Vista” monument signs at either end of the Paseo roadway area. 

According to a city official, the renovations have gathered a great deal of interest from business owners and private investors. Kevin Ham, the city’s director of economic development, stated that the potential for businesses and other mixed-use projects is high, and the city has been in discussions with property owners in the corridor to help redevelop or renovate their land or buildings.

“As we come out of this pandemic, people will have been in their homes looking for opportunities once it’s safe enough to gather with people, and to use some of that money that they’ve saved,” Ham said. “You’ll see people spending that disposable income, and uses coming in to serve that specific need. That’s on the horizon. Most economists are talking about this now.”

Of course, a project of this magnitude has had some difficulties along the way. During its construction, businesses complained about lost customers due to the heavy road construction as well as the high cost of redesigning certain aspects, such as the monument arches. 

Santa Fe Avenue has been a heavily traveled corridor since the 1920s. Through the 1960s, the corridor bloomed with dozens of small businesses and restaurants. However, the stretch became neglected in the early 2000s as traffic shifted to Vista Village and Civic Center Drive. Due to this shift in public interest, the Santa Fe section deteriorated until the revamp began in 2014. 

On the south end of Santa Fe Avenue, a Veteran’s Memorial Park was built to honor the Marines and soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. This project was inspired by a local developer named Carl Pinamonti, who dreamed of developing a memorial park for the Veterans of Vietnam, including his 19-year-old son who was killed in 1969 during the war. A ¾ acre parcel of land was donated by Pinamonti in 2000, but the city could not afford to maintain or build the memorial at the time. The city later got in contact with Pinamonti’s children in 2011, and a new parcel of land was allocated to building the memorial. 

Although this project saw a myriad of difficulties along the way, the finished product is expected to bring the community together, and provide plenty of entertainment options for local residents and tourists in the near future. 

Photo via City of Vista