While the long-delayed renovation of the historic F.W. Woolworth Co. building at 3067–3075 University Avenue still has no start date, the developer is constructing apartments behind that building. Built in 1949, the Streamline Moderne structure is on the city's register of historic resources, based on its interior space.
The building's front was recently painted over by the city after taggers caused major damage to the previous decorative artwork. Civic San Diego now holds the keys to the building.
Angela Landsberg, executive director of the business improvement district North Park Main Street said, “This is/was a Redevelopment Property. The project has been held up by the state’s dissolution of redevelopment. I don’t have any certain dates for re-initiating the project but I have been told it will be 'soon.’”
Jeff Zinner, senior project manager at Civic San Diego, explained the delay this way: “At this time, Civic San Diego, on behalf of the City of San Diego, and the developer have re-engaged in efforts to move this project forward. Past delays were unfortunately a result of the redevelopment dissolution process. He added that “the City/Agency now has a framework for the disposition of properties owned by the former Redevelopment Agency.” Zinner said he thinks a “6- to 12-month time frame” for approval seems “reasonable.”
Meanwhile, International Design & Management (IDM) and Bejan Arfaa Architects are currently building the “Habitat on 31st” project at 3810 31st St., just south of the old Woolworth's and URBN Pizza. That development will consist of 35 apartment units in four stories; parking will be on grade. The developers already owned the land.
IDM partner Al Kerendian said the project — studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units — will take about 18 months to complete. The apartments won't include any ground-floor retail because it's off University Avenue, Kerendian explained. The project evaluation will be “$7.5-$8 million.” He is confident that the completed apartments, including four affordable units, will be “rented quickly” at “market rates.”
Due to rising construction costs, the Woolworth renovation's original construction estimate of $2.4 million (plus $100,000 for street/sidewalk improvements) would probably increase “20 to 25 percent,” according to Kerendian. He said he thinks that project won't commence for “maybe 18 months.”