Mission Hills Nursery: Will It Survive?

| May 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

There may be a day in the near future when our Mission Hills Nursery is no longer a landmark on the corner of Palmetto and Fort Stockton Drive. Old time Mission Hills residents remember Mission Hills Nursery when the Antonicelli family owned and ran it. Giuseppe Antonicelli bought it from Kate Sessions in 1922. In 1989, when his son Frank decided to sell the family business, he found the perfect buyers in Fausto and Toni Palafox, people who would continue the warm, family feeling and perpetuate the tradition of the fine neighborhood nursery founded by Kate Sessions.

Many gardens have benefitted from Mission Hills Nursery.

Many gardens have benefitted from Mission Hills Nursery.

As time went on, the Mission Hills Nursery continued to grow in importance to the community. The Palafox family was largely responsible for the birth of the Mission Hills Garden Club and its annual Garden Walk. (This year’s Walk takes place Saturday, May 10 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.) The Garden Club and the Walk have added a great deal to the community by encouraging people to create and maintain gardens, by educating the community in safe and healthy ways to care for our environment and plants, and by giving generously to various projects to improve community life from library donations to scholarships and school gardens.

Last July Toni and Fausto thought their dream of owning both the business and site was coming through. After years of saving, working, and actively supporting the community, they opened escrow on the purchase of the site. The Palafoxes were working on their loan when the bank revealed that the site used to be a gas station and that there were gas tanks stored underneath the portion at the eastern half of the site. As they spent money on reports and gathered more information, the issue of the gas tanks loomed large.

The Saturday before Easter, Toni learned that someone had posted on Facebook that the Mission Hills Nursery was in escrow. Then a realtor friend told her that the property had been listed for sale and put into the Multiple Listing Service on April 13; it was advertised as “…5.9 residential city lots. . .Opportunity for redevelopment.” By the Monday after Easter, the listing was marked “Pending.”

Now the Palafox family has no idea whether the nursery has been sold without their knowledge or whether they are in fact still going to be able to buy it. What agony to be in limbo after following in the footsteps of Kate Sessions and the Antonicellis nurturing a thriving nursery and local landmark.

How can we save a local landmark and asset to Mission Hills? We are in danger of losing not just the 82 year old history beginning with Kate Sessions and the Antonicelli family to the third owners: the Palafox family; but we would lose the convenience of being able to walk to the nursery with a wagon, pick up our goods and walk home, of knowing that the plants are not sprayed with poisons or toxins, of being able to get unusual items, being treated like family — the positive aspects of small town atmosphere.

How can this dilemma be solved? Will we lose our nursery and the Palafox family? We can’t lose this landmark, and we can’t lose the people who have contributed so much to Mission Hills. I am not an expert in these matters, but I believe without the nursery and the Palafoxes at its helm, the community of Mission Hills would suffer a great loss. Let’s find a way to save the nursery by keeping it in the Palafox family. We need to act now.

You’re invited to share your interest and support for this effort, to save Mission Hills Nursery, by contacting us at the Presidio Sentinel: info@presidiosentinel.com.

May 28’s meeting will feature Master Gardener Meredith French’s power point presentation of Bugs in the Bush, beneficial insects in our gardens at 4070 Jackdaw from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Category: Local News, National News

About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.