Downtown Condo Guys

Nancy Moors (Courtesy photo)
Development, Bankers Hill

What’s Movin’ & Shakin’ in Bankers Hill? Community Leader Nancy Moors Has Answers

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Prior to the formation of the Bankers Hill Community Group, residents and businesses in the historic neighborhood lacked an organized, collective voice. But that changed nearly 12 years ago when Bankers Hill homeowner Nancy Moors, along with her wife Ann Garwood, founded the ever-growing community group, which provides information about development and general matters within the area.

Much of the urban infill seen throughout Bankers Hill is recent and ongoing compared to the prolific development in its adjoining neighborhoods—Hillcrest to the north and Downtown to the south. Those zip codes have witnessed significant commercial and housing development over the past 20 years.

We caught up with Moors by phone in Maui, where the couple spends part of the year in their second home while remaining active with the Bankers Hill organization they founded. She gave us a fresh perspective on what’s occurring along the neighborhood’s thriving streets.

Downtown Condo Guys: What is your current role with the Bankers Hill Community Group?

Moors: I am on the board of directors; the director at large; and a past chair. And my wife Ann is on the steering committee.

Downtown Condo Guys: How did the organization come about?

Moors: We started it first as a group of residents, which morphed into a group that came to include businesses.

Downtown Condo Guys: How many people and businesses belong to the group? And how often does it meet?

Moors: The group is open to everybody—and there are no membership dues. We have approximately 500 people on our email list, and our meetings are held from 6:30 to 8pm on the third Monday of the month, except August and December. They attract anywhere between 40 to 100 people. We hold the meetings at the Bankers Hill Clubhouse (3030 Front Street). The building is owned by the San Diego Indoor Sports Club, which has served physically disabled people since 1930.

Downtown Condo Guys: What is the group’s main mission?

Moors: It’s to provide a voice for the people of Bankers Hill. Our meetings are informational. We have speakers who come every month. It’s a way of keeping people informed on what is going on in their own backyards.

Downtown Condo Guys: You were previously active in the Hillcrest community, correct?

Moors: Yes. Anne and I were among the founding members of the Hillcrest Town Council in the early 2000s. We had a business and home there until 2011. I’m also a past president of the Hillcrest Business Association. We owned Hillquest, which was an annual publication and a conduit to the community web site

Then in 2003, we bought a Craftsman apartment house in Bankers Hill that was built in 1921. We spent about 10 years rehabilitating that house while still living in Hillcrest—and we had it historically designated. The house has five units occupied by young professionals. We live in one of the units. We also have a home in Hawaii and divide our time throughout the year.

Downtown Condo Guys: How has Bankers Hill changed over the past decade?

Moors: I would say its infrastructure is currently changing. There is a lot of development taking place.

Downtown Condo Guys: Such as?

Moors: There is a large project in the pipeline on Spruce Street called The Quince. It will be a mixed-use apartment building that wraps around Third and Fourth Avenues. It’s still in the permitting process with the city, so the date of completion hasn’t been announced.

Recently completed is another mixed-use apartment developed at Fourth and Redwood called Secoya. It was the first housing structure in San Diego that wasn’t required to provide parking for its residents when it was built. Also, there is the new 525 Olive, a high rise developed in conjunction with St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Downtown Condo Guys: Have developers been mindful of the neighborhood’s inherent charm?

Moors: Residents may say that is questionable. And the developers will say they’ve been respectful in their designs. Although we’re talking about tall buildings here, which weren’t present when the neighborhood was built. It’s hard to make a 17-story structure relate to historically preserved buildings from the early 1900s. But as a group, we don’t take positions of support or non-support over any particular development.

Downtown Condo Guys: What are some of the new, incoming businesses to Bankers Hill?

Moors: A location of North Park Brewing just opened. And there’s a new still-unnamed restaurant that is going into the old Bankers Hill Restaurant. It’s from the folks who own Common Stock. There are also a couple of new coffee shops in south Bankers Hill, and a used vinyl record store that just opened on Fifth Avenue called Flimzy.

Although I can tell you that we all yearn for the day when we have a grocery store in our neighborhood. People still have to drive to Hillcrest or Mission Hills to do their grocery shopping, which only adds to their congestion. So if there is anyone out there from Trader Joe’s listening….(quip)

Downtown Condo Guys: Tell us something about Bankers Hill that the average San Diegan may not know.

Moors: There is a San Diego hike started by the Natural History Museum called the ‘Seven Bridges Hike.’ Three of those seven bridges are in Bankers Hill. They are the Quince Street Pedestrian Bridge built in 1905 (the oldest bridge in SD County), the Spruce Street Bridge built in 1912. It spans over Maple Canyon. And the First Avenue Bridge built in 1931, which also spans Maple Canyon.

Our community group is planning to purchase and erect two markers for the Quince Street Bridge; one will be the actual historic designation, and the other will tell a little history about the bridge.

Also the architecture of homes throughout Bankers Hill were built by several famous architects such as Irving Gill and Hazel Wood Waterman, who was San Diego’s first woman architect trained by Irving Gill. And the group, Save Our Heritage Organization (SoHo), sponsors monthly walking tours of the neighborhood.

Downtown Condo Guys: How do you think Bankers Hill will look and feel 10 years from now?

Moors: It will continue to change probably for decades, and with new energy from a new demographic of younger, professional residents. I think it will all be good for the neighborhood.