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First look: Proposed 40-story building in East Village

First look: Proposed 40-story building in East Village.

A proposed 40-story apartment development in East Village got high marks Wednesday from the design committee of downtown’s planning agency, Civic San Diego.

The 613-unit complex would have a six-story building, a seven-story building and a 40-story tower reaching 400 feet. The proposed buildings, at the corner of Park Boulevard and Broadway, are spread apart to avoid an earthquake fault through the center. The area in between the buildings would be turned into green space for residents.

If approved, it will be one of the tallest residential towers in the city, and the fifth-most residential units for a downtown complex. A timeline for construction is not set but could be approved within the next 12 months.

Design committee members praised the project from developer Liberty National Corp. for making good use of a site that had an earthquake fault on it, as well as slopes on every side. The site is bounded by Park Boulevard, 13th Street, Broadway and C Street.

“We are getting a very dense project,” committee member Jennifer Ayala said. “Unlike another block, not too far away, with a flat site and no fault and no restrictions. Look at what we were able to get on a site with a bit of creativity.”

Getting downtown developers to build denser developments is a focus of the agency, but doesn’t always work. Developer JPI in September proposed a 318-apartment project on a full block site in East Village that could have held up to 900 apartments. Civic San Diego ended up approving the project when JPI added 50 more apartments.

Architect Bob Lisauskas of Baltimore-based CallisonRTKL said it tried to use the earthquake fault at Park Boulevard and Broadway as an opportunity.

“It’s almost a canyon of green space,” he said.

Plans including fencing around the green space but committee members were concerned the public would not have access. Some ideas were having part of the space opened to the public or having set hours when the public is allowed access.

“I would love to see that available to the public, during the daytime at least,” said member Theodore Shaw. “It can be a real amenity for not just residents and shoppers, but people that come through the neighborhood.”

This is the second major East Village tower proposed this year by San Diego-based developer Liberty National Corp. Its other proposed project is a 40-story tower on the south side of B Street.

Both projects will not include low-income housing on site, and the developer will instead pay millions in inclusionary housing fees. It will pay $4.8 million in fees for the Park and Boulevard project.

Mark Schmidt, principal of Willmark Communities, is listed as a corporate officer on the project. In July, Willmark paid a $4.75 million dollar settlement to a group of tenants that alleged the company had a practice of unlawfully retaining security deposits of tenants, or levying bogus charges when tenants moved out. Willmark denied any wrongdoing. Efforts to reach Schmidt were unsuccessful.

The Park and Broadway project intends to include 18,852-square-feet of commercial space and 634 parking spaces. The 60,182-square-feet is located next to a stop on the San Diego Trolley and near San Diego City College.

Next for the project is a second meeting in front of the design review committee, then a meeting in front of the entire Civic San Diego board where it could get full approval.

Article by San Diego Union Tribune. March 12, 2019

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