The recently painted Woolworth's building on University Avenue
  • The recently painted Woolworth's building on University Avenue
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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.

New construction behind Woolworth's building — "Habitat on 31st"

New construction behind Woolworth's building — "Habitat on 31st"

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.”

Studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units expected to be  “rented quickly”

Studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units expected to be “rented quickly”

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.”

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AlexClarke June 3, 2016 @ 6:42 a.m.

Four affordable units. Define affordable.


dwbat June 3, 2016 @ 2:08 p.m.

Less than market rate. Apartment developers have a choice to provide a percentage of affordable units, or pay a large fee for not doing so. Some just willingly pay the fine.


AlexClarke June 4, 2016 @ 7:03 a.m.

And who can afford the "market rate". Certainly not those working by the hour.


dwbat June 4, 2016 @ 9:06 a.m.

But that's true about apartments all over San Diego. It's one of the mainstays of capitalism: Charge what the market will bear. That's why San Diego needs the minimum wage to increase to $15 per hour. With the shutdown of Redevelopment Agencies by Governor Brown, the construction of truly-affordable apartments has become much more difficult. There's a senior building now under construction on Iowa just off University, and it will fill up before it's done next year! Its rents are very low.


SoCalNoPark June 3, 2016 @ 11:33 a.m.

So, out of 35 units in North Park, only four will be "affordable"? Does that mean there will be four studios and the rest of the apartments will rent to all the high income North Parkers? LOL

At least the eyesore that is the old Woolworth building has been painted. I wonder how long it will take the gangbangers and taggers to add their touch of class to the front, and how long then it will take the City to do another paint job.


dwbat June 10, 2016 @ 8:27 p.m.

I wasn't told if the four affordable units will be studios. But the rest of the units will be at market rate, because there's a shortage of apartments in North Park. That's just the way it works, like it or not.


dwbat June 3, 2016 @ 2:12 p.m.

If/when it gets tagged again, NP residents must report it immediately.


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