The downtown construction pace continues unabated, and Little Italy is a good part of that development.
Approved last May by Civic San Diego, the “520 W Ash” apartment project is moving ahead. While this will bring more housing to the area, it means a longtime business university must relocate.
California International Business University (CIBU), which currently leases space at 520 W. Ash St., has applied to Civic San Diego for a conditional use permit. This will allow it to operate an educational institution at a new location: 1660 Union St., also in Little Italy. Prior to the CivicSD public hearing, the application goes before the Downtown Community Planning Council.
The high-rise will be built by Lennar Multifamily Communities and designed by architects Carrier Johnson + Culture of San Diego. The 24-story, 220-unit apartment project is planned to include one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, 5000 square feet of commercial space, 331 parking spaces, a clubhouse, outdoor pool, and deck. The project includes a previously acquired lot at 1446 Columbia St.
In order to gain approval, Lennar was required to pay development impact fees to pay its share of new park, fire station and traffic improvements in the Downtown Community Plan area of Little Italy. Those fees are estimated to be $1.7 million. In addition, the developer must pay $975,000 in FAR (floor area ratio) fees that fund public parks and enhanced public right-of-ways.
The project is fully approved, said Brad Richter, assistant vice president for planning at CivicSD. Richter stated there had previously been “public testimony against the project from a neighbor who wished to preserve her views across the site,” but he wasn't aware of any lawsuit being filed.
As for demolition, Ryan Gatchalian, president of Lennar's Southern California development said, “We intend to begin demo/construction upon the vacation of the existing tenants.”
Brian Hawkins, dean of student affairs at California International Business University, said the school must vacate its space by May 8. “We do consider the 1660 [Union St.] location ideal, and in fact better for a downtown university,” said Hawkins, “as it is adjacent to Vantaggio [Suites], a housing venue where more than half our students reside.” CIBU is primarily aimed at students from other countries. Hawkins said they “hail from 40-plus nations” now.
The university offers doctorate degrees in business administration and masters' in business administration, among others. CIBU has reportedly the second-lowest annual tuition — $13,841 — of area MBA programs.
The school, unlike most business universities in the U.S., has national accreditation, rather than the standard regional accreditation. Business schools generally have AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation. However, California International is accredited by the lesser-known Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).