Partners try for home run in downtown Pacifica 

Two locals with professional baseball experience are looking to turn the "legacy" of Nick’s Restaurant and the Sea Breeze Motel into the downtown that Pacifica has long waited for.

For nearly 80 years, Nick’s has been the unofficial celebratory center of the coastside community, but now, the Gust family is looking to turn over the name and business to Rockaway Beach Resort Partners, a development group fronted by homegrown professional baseball talent, Mike Diaz and Chris Morrow.

Between Sea Bowl Lane and Reina del Mar Avenue, the area could also see additional housing along Fassler Avenue near Sea Bowl, which would provide more residents within walking distance of Rockaway Beach and enhance a downtown feel.

The Rockaway development group wants to bring top-end retail and resort accommodations, creating a landmark for Pacificans and the Bay Area, the developers said.

City officials were pleased with the initial proposal at a Dec. 4, 2006, Planning Commission study session, but some warned the group not to "max out" the site and to respect the sensitive environment.

Morrow, who worked at Nick’s in the mid-1980s and played pro ball for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants organizations from 1988 to 1994, said the intent of the group was to bring the facilities into the modern day.

"We want to get that area to be the focal point of our community," said Morrow, whose business partner Diaz played in the major leagues with the Pittburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs in the mid-1980s.

Currently, the proposal for the 72,228-square-foot parcel is a four-story mixed-use commercial redevelopment that would include the restaurant, an 85-room hotel, 21 condominiums/hotel rooms, a spa and nearly 9,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level, said Lee Diaz, an associate planner with Pacifica.

There would also be an underground parking area.

"It probably will change the area with all those uses," Diaz said.

In 1986, the City Council adopted a specific plan for the Rockaway Redevelopment area.

The redevelopment would serve three markets: Bay Area residents looking for respite, visitors to San Francisco who don’t want to stay in The City, and local small businesses looking for a place to bring clients or have conferences, said Dan Vinal, a spokesman for the development group.

The facilities will be "high end" and the resort "boutique" as the developers try to set a precedent, Vinal said of the $60-70 million project.

"[The redevelopment area] has never reallyfulfilled expectations," said Vinal, who added that there could be a formal application to the Planning Department by February.

Mayor Sue Digre said some were nostalgic about "losing the Nick’s that we know," but people generally seemed excited that the new proposal was coming from locals.

Condo proposal earns mixed review

Neighbors and residents voiced a mixed bag of concerns and applause for the 34-residential-unit proposal known as "The Prospects," less than a half-mile from the ocean on Fassler Avenue, at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

If developed, the site would bring additional concentration to the Rockaway area of Pacifica, which is also seeing changes to community pillars such as Nick’s and the Sea Breeze Motel.

The 11.2-acre site just east of the Fassler Avenue and Roberts Road intersection would house 17 single family residences, 17 duplexes or triplexes and two-level below-ground parking garage with 112 spaces. It would feature community gardens, open space, and an amphitheatre, and each housing unit would be designed to be a "Zero Energy Structure," meaning it would create as much energy as the housing unit would use through methods such as photovoltaic systems.

Those applauding the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting touted its "green" design and looked forward to a beneficial use for a site that some use for an illegal dumping ground.

But others said that the additional traffic stemming from more residences would pose a risk to the already winding, curving Fassler Avenue, which sees traffic around the clock, residents said. They added that the scenic beauty of the ridge above Fassler would be compromised by the new homes.

E-mail David Smith at dsmith@examiner.com.

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