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In-N-Out replaces Black Angus, another step in Grantville’s transformation

Bluewater,  80-apartment complex in Grantvillet was under construction last year.
Bluewater, an 80-apartment complex at the corner of Fairmont and Twain avenues in Grantville, was under construction last year. It is one of the changes affecting Grantville.
(Howard Lipin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Formerly blighted neighborhood is expected to become passageway between SDSU and its new western campus

The transformation of San Diego’s Grantville neighborhood into a passageway between San Diego State University and its new western campus will continue later this month when a popular longtime restaurant gets torn down and replaced.

Crews are expected to break ground this month on an In-N-Out Burger and Starbucks that will replace a Black Angus that has operated since 1979 in the Riverdale Shopping Center, near Friars and Mission Gorge roads.

Plans for the project got mixed reactions when they were announced last fall. Many older residents in Allied Gardens complained about losing one of the area’s only full-service restaurants, while many young people hailed the coming of two popular chains.

The chains will continue the transformation of Grantville, a quickly growing neighborhood sandwiched between the university and the Mission Valley stadium site, which will soon become the voter-approved SDSU West development.

San Diego officials say they may have a local model for their strategy to solve the city’s housing crisis by placing dense high-rise apartments and condominium complexes along trolley lines.

The development is slated to include academic buildings, a football stadium for the SDSU Aztecs, a hotel, dense housing, retail shops and a river park.

Grantville, which has a station on the San Diego Trolley’s green line, had already attracted several new mid-rise apartment complexes before voters approved the SDSU West plan in November 2018.

The area is considered ideal for growth because of the trolley stop and nearby freeways, Interstates 8 and 15.

And now the university’s new western campus is expected to further accelerate development and make it more focused on people passing through between the two campuses.

Grantville is undergoing a transformation

“Grantville is not a destination area. It’s going to become a passageway from SDSU West to the campus,” said David Smith, chairman of the Navajo Community Planning Group, which covers Allied Gardens, Grantville and some nearby areas.

A new growth blueprint for the area approved in 2015 envisions mostly housing developments in Grantville, and that’s the long-term plan for the Riverdale plaza.

But the city approved 35-year use permits for In-N-Out and Starbucks as “interim” uses until a large mixed-use project can be built in the long-term future.

Groundbreaking for the chains is expected by the end of August, said Jeanette Temple, senior land use consultant for the Atlantis Group, which is representing the property owner.

Temple said construction is expected to be complete by next spring, with the two chains slated to open next summer.

Residents have expressed concern that the chains will make traffic in the area more dangerous, because vehicles exit and enter the shopping center on a part of Friars Road where traffic moves swiftly.

In-N-Out has generated controversy in the past when its drive-through lines, which have become even longer during the COVID-19 pandemic, spill out into parking lots or nearby streets.

Smith said he’s heard complaints from local residents, most of them older, about losing Black Angus.

“People are upset to lose that kind of old staple business,” he said. “It had been around for a long time, so the older generation of Allied Gardens went there. Losing that one full-service sit-down is a big blow.”

But Smith said most younger residents are upbeat about the new arrivals.

Landing an In-N-Out is particularly difficult. The location will be the chain’s 20th in the county and seventh in the city.

The other locations in the city are in Mission Valley, Pacific Beach, Mira Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Carmel Mountain Ranch and the Midway District.


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