San Diego Business Journal

Downtown Developers Put Multifamily First

PROPERTY: Six Apartment Projects Under Construction By Lou Hirsh Monday, July 1, 2013
Developer MB Property Acquisitions has proposed a 279-apartment, 22-story mixed-use development in East Village, called Pacific Heights, which would also include retail elements and four levels of underground parking.

Developer MB Property Acquisitions has proposed a 279-apartment, 22-story mixed-use development in East Village, called Pacific Heights, which would also include retail elements and four levels of underground parking.

A new 279-unit apartment complex with other mixed-use amenities, proposed for an East Village site by MB Property Acquisitions of San Francisco, recently joined a growing list of multifamily projects either under construction or in the pipeline for downtown San Diego.

According to Civic San Diego, the city’s current downtown project oversight agency, city planning committees in mid-July will begin formal review of plans calling for a 22-story development with apartments, 8,400 square feet of retail/commercial space, and 295 parking spaces in four levels of subterranean parking.

The project, currently listed with the project name Pacific Heights, would be located on the western half of the block bounded by A and B streets, Eleventh Avenue and Park Boulevard.

MB President Michael Blumenthal said developers are looking to begin construction possibly in the first quarter of 2014, with completion by early 2016. Like other developers, those spearheading Pacific Heights are currently focused on serving the burgeoning apartment market, but also watching for signs that downtown’s for-sale condo market could revive in the next two years.

Pacific Heights’ developers and investors were among those involved in past condo projects in San Diego, and they are considering building the new development as condos. “They were partners in the Palermo (230 units), Union Square (263 units) and Alta (179 units),” Blumenthal said in an email.

Apartment Focus

Currently, local multifamily development remains focused primarily on apartments. Industry observers have noted that San Diego County currently has approximately 10,000 apartments either under construction or in the pipeline, and about a third of those units are in downtown San Diego, where at least six developments are currently under construction.

Some of the county’s apartment projects were originally envisioned as for-sale condos, but converted to apartment offerings after the housing market crash that preceded the Great Recession. While a few new local condo projects have been announced during the past two years as the housing market has recovered, there is not significant construction currently underway.

Tentative Buyers

“People are still tentative about buying in this market,” said Michael Yanicelli, managing director in the San Diego office of Phoenix-based multifamily developer Alliance Residential Co.

Alliance is nearing completion on the 199-unit Broadstone Little Italy, a six-story apartment complex where it is looking to begin renting out the first units this fall. Alliance in 2011 acquired the 1.3-acre site off Kettner Boulevard, which had previously been entitled for condominiums under a prior developer that was unable to obtain financing.

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