Little Italy tower, with market rate and senior housing, approved

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

The project includes 265 market rate apartments, 63 subsidized apartments for seniors, and 5,115 sq feet of retail space.

The plan for a new Little Italy building includes a 30-story building with 265 market rate apartments, an 8-story building with 63 subsidized apartments for seniors, and 5,115 sq feet of retail space. It is on the corner of Cedar and Kettner, which is the site of a five-story County parking garage.(Civic San Diego)

By Phillip Molnar, The San Diego Union Tribune


Just when you thought Little Italy was out of room to build.


The downtown planning agency, Civic San Diego, approved a substantial mixed-use project on Kettner Boulevard that includes more than 350 apartments and 5,115 square feet of retail space.


Developers Holland Partner Group and Bridge Housing Group will build around an existing five-story garage on the 52,555 square foot site between Beech and Cedar streets. It will include a 30-story building with 295 market rate residential units and an 8-story building with 63 rent-controlled apartments for seniors.


Civic San Diego directors unanimously approved the project, giving its design praise.

“I think it’s a great project,” said board member Maddy Kilkenny. “I appreciate all the work that has gone into it.”


It could be a while before construction starts. A ground lease with San Diego County will hopefully be signed by the end of the year, said Brent Schertzer, a managing director at Holland Partner Group. After that, it will take about 20 months to build the Bridge building and 26 to 28 months for the Holland building.


Bill Wiblin, executive vice president at Bridge, said market rate and subsidized housing builders teaming up on one project is an efficient way to get rent-controlled apartments to the market faster. Developers in San Diego can put subsidized units in their buildings, or pay a fee instead. Wilbin said when developers put the units in the building it is faster than government agencies constructing affordable units themselves.


The market rate building will include 46 studios (averaging 509 square feet), 144 one-bedrooms (688 square feet), 76 two-bedrooms (1,041 square feet) and 29 three-bedrooms (1,301 square feet).


At the senior building, there will be 31 studios (averaging 509 square feet), 30 one-bedrooms (688 square feet) and two two-bedrooms (1,301 square feet).


Plans call for around 230 parking spots, more than 7,000 square feet of common indoor space, a 300-square-foot pet area. A little more than half the apartments will have a balcony. The building was designed by San Diego-based AVRP Skyport.

The plan for a new Little Italy building includes a 30-story building with 265 market rate apartments, an 8-story building with 63 subsidized apartments for seniors, and 5,115 sq feet of retail space. It is on the corner of Cedar and Kettner, which is the site of a five-story County parking garage.(Civic San Diego)

Bridge Housing said it won’t be taking applications for the senior units until the project gets closer to opening. Income requirements for the apartments have not been determined. The apartments would be restricted by the deed to be rent-restricted for 55 years.


The project will be located next to the San Diego Trolley tracks and surrounded by plenty of other residential properties, including the 160-unit Camden Tuscany Apartments and the 224-unit Ariel apartment building.


AVRP architect Frank Wolden said the location of the complex, facing Waterfront Park and San Diego Bay to the west, made it important to blend into the area. He said part of that was creating an “intimate environment” along Kettner Boulevard with senior units facing the sidewalk, instead of retail as was originally planned.


“This is one of the major intersections in town,” he said. “It’s also one of the more active and iconic intersections in Little Italy.”


Civic San Diego staff estimates the project will create 376 construction jobs and 28 permanent jobs.



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