Vista, CA –The City of Vista’s project to reinvigorate the historic heart of its community, Paseo Santa Fe, has been open for one year, and the final construction to complete a segment of the third roundabout at S. Santa Fe Avenue and Pala Vista Drive – is currently scheduled to be completed in late spring.
“This is a monumental project for Vista,” said Judy Ritter, mayor of the City of Vista. “Twenty years of planning, visioning, and engagement with our businesses and greater community have come to fruition along this downtown corridor. Since the newly improved road opened one year ago, we have witnessed a resurgence of the area, and that is tremendous to see. It’s part of our heritage, and once again, it’s a destination where we can gather, shop, dine and enjoy a slice of Vista together.”
Paseo Santa Fe is the culmination of several decades of planning to determine how to best utilize and energize the portion of S. Santa Fe Avenue between Vista Village and Civic Center Drive. This road was once a critical regional stagecoach route and later a portion of Historic Route 395; with the recent enhancements, the roadway now features travel-friendly roundabouts, pedestrian walkways, plazas and upgraded landscaping that facilitate easy travel for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. All these elements also support the city’s climate action plan goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among other objectives, due to its pedestrian friendly access and close proximity to nearby housing, shopping, and dining.
“Everything about this project is designed to invite the community back to this area, make it easy to get around, and advance the city’s sustainability initiatives,” said Kevin Ham, economic development director for the City of Vista, who recently retired. Ham continued that the support and patience from businesses in the area was paramount to construction’s success. “We owe local businesses and the community a huge thank you for their understanding during construction,” said Ham. “Because the project was approached in phases, due to funding availability, businesses were impacted for different stretches of time, so their cooperation was essential.”
In total, the project cost $30 million, and funding was sourced in part by a variety of grants, including those for “green streets,” that help finance projects aimed at improving the environmental conditions of roadways. “This project introduces significant improvements to how the area responds to rain, and it has water treatment elements, such as the permeable pavers used in the medians to filter pollutants in rain run-off water before it reaches storm drains,” said Skip Hammann, a Vista consultant who has managed the project since 2014. “When you combine elements like this with roundabouts that reduce the need for cars to stop, increase walkability and reduce the severity of vehicle collisions, Vista has built something that makes the area safer, environmentally responsible, and creates a more vibrant place for businesses and people.”
The city noted that securing these grants was integral to the project’s ultimate completion after the State of California eliminated its redevelopment funding agency. “Vista was able to combine two phases of the project after it secured grant funds, and this adjustment in timing allowed for the reduction in overall project costs and condensed construction timelines, which helped businesses,” said Hammann. “This last roundabout bookends the project, bringing everything together, so everyone can come see all that this part of Vista has to offer, which is a lot.”
According to Ham and Hammann, businesses have been pleased with the new energy sparked by the project, and the list of new, exciting businesses continues to grow. “There are a number of new businesses making plans to join Paseo Santa Fe,” said Ham. “I joke that Vista will be heavily caffeinated here soon with some of the coffee shops on the horizon, as just one example of the types of new businesses that are attracted to the area.” Other upcoming businesses and recent additions include Best Pizza and Brew and Archer’s Arrow (planned for Spring 2022).
Ham also noted that the thoughtful connection of Paseo Santa Fe to Vista’s downtown was a driving factor behind the project’s vision. The goal was always to cultivate one cohesive area where businesses can succeed, and residents can spend time without getting in their cars. “Another big part of this project, from an economic development standpoint, is its connection to Vista Village Drive and our downtown,” said Ham. “It was important for us to create demand for this area and attract the types of businesses, restaurants and shops that encourage visitors to walk from one place to another. With movie theaters, breweries, shops and restaurants, there really is something for everyone.”
Current construction on the final portion of the roundabout at Pala Vista Drive requires a temporary traffic detour to reroute northbound traffic on S. Santa Fe to facilitate the relocation of a water line and complete the roundabout. The temporary traffic detour is expected to last between six to eight weeks. During this time, businesses will remain open, and access is expected to be maintained throughout this final construction period. The City of Vista is sharing updates with businesses in the area to keep them informed through construction.
Additional information about the project can be viewed on the City of Vista’s Paseo de Santa Fe webpage. Residents and guests are also encouraged to visit VistaIsOpen.com to stay informed about the new, exciting businesses opening in Vista.