continued Trilogy’s builder, San Diego–based Mayfair Homes, says that Trilogy on 5th “has retained several historical features of the Spaulding residence, recreated architectural elements of the Waverly building, added a third, more contemporary facade, and incorporated all into an eclectic, eye-appealing design.” Along with the original mail-slot, some of the wood and bricks from the old Craftsman-style home were reused for the porch, says a Trilogy sales associate. The design for the entrance was also intended to incorporate some of the original appearance of the home.
Sean Morton, owner of Flowers by Sean one block north of Trilogy at Fifth, has a conflicting opinion of the multicolored building, “It’s definitely good for business, but I think the building is a little tacky — it’s six different colors and just ugly.” Morton can see both points of view on the arrival of new mid- and high-rise condominiums to the area. “For business, it’s a great thing, but as a resident I can definitely see the concerns that a lot of the community is having.”
According to a sales associate at Mayfair Homes, 23 of the 25 residences are currently available.
Sixth Avenue and Upas
14 stories, 148 feet tall,
14 units, 1 per floor
1 floor plan, 2258 square feet
2 master suites, 2 baths
Prices: start at $1,100,000
Completion date: fall 2008
Amenities: Twenty-five linear feet of floor-to-ceiling window wall, a fully wired entertainment center, low-voltage track lights in living and dining areas, stainless steel appliances, a three-bowl stainless-steel Elkay sink with Grohe fixtures, Italian porcelain tile, granite countertops, French doors that lead out to a wrap-around balcony, master suite with hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling window facing Balboa Park, shower with etched frameless glass, Roman tub.
Two blocks north of Trilogy, on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Upas Street, stands the residential tower Mi Arbolito. The 14-story building, buttressed up against one of the few high-rise condominiums in Hillcrest, 666 Del Prado, sits on the edge of the manicured grass of Balboa Park.
The developer of the slender high-rise building is Delaware-based 1700 Investors, LLC, though the design is by San Diego architectural firm Martinez and Cutri, whose other works include Prospect Point in La Jolla and the Hyatt Regency Hotel expansion in San Diego.
According to the Martinez and Cutri website, Mi Arbolito is “destined to be the most prestigious and exclusive residential tower in all Southern California.”
Architect Richard Benson feels that the location and design for Mi Arbolito are in tune with the surrounding area. “It’s the appropriate place for a high-rise.… It should be done with the immediate area serving as a context for the scale of the design.”
The views to the south are of downtown San Diego, and to the southwest, the panorama is sure to offer sights of the bay. Views to the east are blocked by 666 Del Prado.
Ron Getchey, president of 666 Del Prado’s homeowners’ association, isn’t happy with the new neighboring building, and he isn’t thrilled with the San Diego Planning Commission for allowing the project to be built. “I headed the litigation against the building for the year that the project was on hold, and let me tell you…the entire process between the developers and the commission was not objective.”
Chris Burch lives three buildings down from Mi Arbolito in a 100-year-old former Spanish mansion that has been converted to apartments. “I really like the old buildings. I would like to see new construction that matches the old city architecture, and I really hate the fact that in order to give a great view to someone else you have to take it away from another. I mean, without the high-rise, I would have a view of the park. There should be a law against it.”
Three of the 14 units have been sold.
Sixth Avenue and Redwood
1700–4500 square feet
Prices: $1.4–$5 million
The fourth condo project, Biarritz, is four blocks south of Mi Arbolito, across Sixth Avenue from Balboa Park. Construction on the proposed luxury condominiums has stopped a dozen feet above ground, and the fenced-off construction site is devoid of workers as well as any sign of recent activity. Previously owned by Mayfair Homes, the project was in the hands of San Diego National Bank as of last week. Reliable sources say the bank is currently negotiating with another developer. Loan management at the bank declined to comment.
The sluggish housing market continues to show dismal results for developers. Out of the 105 currently available units, only 44 have sold.
According to Councilwoman Atkins, the City is seeing the effects of the sluggish market. “We have seen a slowdown in residential project development and plans in the pipeline at the City’s Development Services Department.”
Atkins is aware that some Hillcrest property owners and residents are troubled by the condo developments. “There is significant concern from community residents that infill projects may destroy the village character of Hillcrest. I am concerned that there are structures that are more than 45 years old that may be deemed historic but which are being demolished at a high rate to make way for infill projects that may not be in character with the surrounding neighborhood.”
John Castle, owner of several Hillcrest apartment buildings, is disappointed by the high-rise trend. “I feel that the older buildings add character to the community and that bringing in large complexes loses some of that character.”
Despite the slowing of plans coming to the City, and despite the pleas from some of Hillcrest’s community members and property owners, the residents of Hillcrest will in time once again have to cope with the sounds of diesel-powered construction coming into the neighborhood. In addition, commuters should be prepared to weave their way in NASCAR-like fashion through blocked lanes of traffic taken up by construction vehicles.
And after the new citizens of Hillcrest move into condos such as Atlas at Hillcrest, Trilogy on 5th, Mi Arbolito, and perhaps, eventually, Biarritz, and once they become settled, they too will join the debate on the development of Hillcrest.