The on-again, off-again affordable Atmosphere apartment project in downtown San Diego is on again, but hurry up and wait if you want to qualify for an apartment there. The San Diego City Council approved the project on June 4. The city became the successor agency to its dissolved Redevelopment Agency, with projects previously ramrodded by the defunct Centre City Development Corporation.
Jeff Graham, president of Civic San Diego, said the developer, Wakeland Housing & Development Corporation, is now seeking “federal, state and local funding sources” but it will take some time “before construction is expected to commence.” Wakeland, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, reports it will be in “early 2015.”
The size of the Atmosphere construction site was increased with the city's purchase of two adjacent buildings. One was California Stamp Co., 1492 Fifth Avenue at Beech Street; the other was Spencer S. Busby law offices at 1434 Fifth Avenue, directly east of the empty lot.
According to Graham, the California Stamp Co. site acquisition cost was $1.345 million; the Busby law office site cost $1.081 million. California Stamp owner Randy Hansen died recently, according to a company employee. Busby said he was “basically satisfied” with the sale and that he plans to relocate downtown when the time comes.
The 12-story Atmosphere apartments, projected to cost $82,568,312, will contain 205 affordable units, offering one, two, and three bedrooms. It will include three levels of subterranean parking (182 spaces). The nearby historic Beechwood residential hotel will remain at the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Beech Street.
The old construction site is mid-block between Ash and Beech streets, in between Fourth and Fifth avenues. After the abandoned Cortez district “hole” was filled in and fenced in August 2010, the plan was to create a public parking lot.
The Centre City Development Corporation had solicited bids for the parking project. The parking-lot operator would have shared revenue with the city, until the apartment complex began construction. But now the parking-lot plan is dead. Due to the cost factor, Graham said, “it is not wise to spend our precious remaining affordable-housing funds on an interim parking lot.”