Details on the controversial Boulevard at 63rd development, formerly known as Centrepointe Luxury Apartments, are beginning to emerge as construction proceeds and as the lawsuit filed by residents opposed to the project makes its way through the court.
Some of those details appear to contradict promises made by the developer Carmel Partners as part of a settlement brokered by attorneys from the City of San Diego. The terms of the settlement consisted of the following: Carmel Partners would make a $150,000 donation for maintenance of a nearby park — as reported by online news organization Voice of San Diego — as well as promise to steer clear of dormitory-style housing for nearby students attending San Diego State; in exchange, the city would agree to lift the administrative hold placed on the project by former mayor Bob Filner.
A February 14 court filing from Rolandans for Quality Infill Development, however, shows the development is anything but traditional apartment-style housing, raising questions as to whether the city got a bum deal at the expense of the taxpayers.
Details posted on the development's website show similarities to private dorms across the country, such as units without a dedicated master bedroom, each room with its own bathroom, roommate-matching services, as well as "Vegas-style" pool parties with cabanas and game rooms. And for those students who don't have furniture, that's okay — the development comes equipped with furnished bedrooms, each with a bed and a desk. On its website, the developer sums the lifestyle as "Luxe Living 101."
"In order to obtain and expedite building permits for the project, [the developer] misrepresented to city staff, elected officials, and the public that it was building luxury apartments, but what it is building is student housing for SDSU students…. The project intends to wall-off student housing in a giant gated complex, massing four large buildings together, with no public pedestrian or open space elements, thereby violating multiple Mid-City Community Plan policies and guidelines to provide a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood, mix of for-sale housing product, with buffered community integration," reads a newly filed court motion from residents.
Residents who joined together to file the lawsuit believe the developer never intended to build anything but student housing. They remain frustrated that the city would approve a large development with minimal public notification.
"My impression on seeing the layout is that this is one savvy developer," says Rolando resident Karen Collins, one of dozens of residents who have joined the lawsuit. "After watching several failed attempts by previous developers who were forthcoming about their plans to build private for-profit dormitories, this developer dodged the substantive review that would and should have been triggered by semantically retitling their project ‘luxury apartments.’ Located on El Cajon Boulevard overlooking an Arco station, tattoo parlor, hookah lounge, and Effin’s Pub, these ‘luxury apartments’ are clearly designed for student housing and are being marketed as such. It’s ridiculous."
Councilmember Marti Emerald's office declined to comment on the floor plans and allegations that the developer has moved forward with a student-housing design.