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ESCONDIDO, Calif. –- Demolition on the old Palomar hospital in downtown Escondido began Friday morning.

The 50-year-old hospital will be turned into a new housing development called “Palomar Heights.”

“Palomar Heights is a 510-unit residential community in close proximity to downtown Escondido,” said Lance Waite, principal developer for Integral Communities. “We have a rooftop bar, we have got a sky lounge, we have a small farmers market.”

The new development will take two years to complete, with six to seven months of demolition.

According to Waite, they will not be imploding the hospital from the inside. Instead, the plan is to take the hospital apart piece by piece to recycle material.

The old Palomar hospital was closed back in 2015, with some health departments still operating inside.

“The hospital itself doesn’t meet earthquake standards since the laws were changed some years ago, and so they aren’t able to have normal actives in that hospital right now,” Waite said.

Before the project was approved, not everyone on the city council was on board for the project.

“The vote was three to two at city council, and some of the issues of concern were over density – whether there was enough density there and affordable housing questions,” said Adam Finestone, interim director of community development for the city of Escondido.

Finestone says they hope the new development brings more foot traffic to vacant store fronts in downtown Escondido. Rent for one of the units will start around $2,000 a month. Senior living will also be available.