320 W. Cedar
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Architect/developer Jonathan Segal has applied to Civic San Diego to construct a 36-unit, 87-foot-tall, eight-story, all-studio apartment complex at a presumed historic site, at 320 W. Cedar Street in Little Italy. It would also include an attached four-story, single-family home. If approved, construction would begin approximately in February 2017, with completion in a year.

Architect's vision for 320 W. Cedar

Architect's vision for 320 W. Cedar

The development requires a site development permit because the builder proposes to demolish a historic structure on the property. This is the Oscar M. Hillard, Queen Anne architectural style house, registered as number 282 in 1990 with the city’s Historic Review Board.

Save Our Heritage Organisation executive director Bruce Coons did not mention any planned protests but said the project “is in the most intact block of Victorian houses left in downtown.”

The rundown house has dual entrances, with another front door at 1610 Union Street. A nail salon vacated the property recently; it sold in June for $1,850,000 and is now surrounded by a privacy fence.

The developer is requesting an exemption because there won’t be any parking (though the four-story structure would have two parking spaces). To avoid the usual required parking at apartment buildings, the developer asked for an incentive via the city’s affordable-housing density bonus program.

Under that requested variance, two of the 400-square-foot studio units would be rented to tenants with very-low income. According to Brad Richter, CivicSD’s assistant VP for planning, the parking for apartments is “typically 0.5 spaces/unit required for a small lot like this one.”

Gary Smith, president of the San Diego Downtown Residents Group, sees it differently. His August 31 response was: “Yes, sigh; anything ‘affordable’ you can waive almost anything.”

The architectural firm’s Matthew Segal told the Reader: “The project would not be feasible with parking. The entire project would have to change. It is promoting walking, and alternative transportation means and methods, instead of providing parking.”

While LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings are in vogue, this structure won’t meet the criteria but will have roof solar panels. “We do not believe in LEED or its process,” Segal said. “The process itself essentially taxes the building and designer, in order to jump through hoops and loopholes to accumulate points.”

A public meeting of the Downtown Community Planning Council's pre-design subcommittee takes place September 13 at CivicSD offices. A CivicSD design review committee meeting is September 14, same location.

Subsequent design review meetings follow with Civic San Diego and the Downtown Community Planning Council; the Civic San Diego board and the city planning commission will make the final decision.

A recently completed Jonathan Segal project was the Mr. Robinson mixed-use residential building. Another project, with parking, is under construction at 4075 Park Boulevard in Hillcrest.

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dwbat Sept. 2, 2016 @ 11:35 a.m.

To Steve Brown on FB: I think the rent will be more. Rents are now increasing so fast in San Diego, especially in a desirable neighborhood like Little Italy.


dwbat Sept. 3, 2016 @ 1:03 a.m.

To Melodie Ford on FB: The subhead comment about "affordable" by Gary Smith referred to the two low-income units that are being offered. I don't know what the rents for the other 34 apartments will be, as I don't think that's been locked in. Since it's at least a year away, it's hard to predict what market rates will be then.


AlexClarke Sept. 3, 2016 @ 9:03 a.m.

The reason the developers make a certain number of units "affordable" is so they can fast track the permitting process and get favorable financing and get taxpayer subsidizes. Follow the money and you will find the corrupt city and city officials behind the deal.


dwbat Sept. 3, 2016 @ 12:05 p.m.

The upcoming meetings are open to the public for comment.


dwbat Sept. 3, 2016 @ 6:07 p.m.

To Jenny Reiswig on FB: "...making TWO of the units low income is just wrong." That is the proposal, but the final decision has not yet been made.


Cassander Sept. 5, 2016 @ 2 p.m.

And here you see why developers are the #1 source of private funds for "density" and "multi-modal" advocacy groups: When projects can eliminate parking, one of the largest hard costs in construction, the difference can be pocketed as pure profit.

Surely no one believes that any of the 34 units besides the two token affordable ones will be priced at less than market rate, or that otherwise the developer will pass the savings on to the tenants/buyers?

This leads to an arms race, with each developer whining in turn that they "can't compete" with having to provide parking, the pretexts for exemptions becoming ever more flimsy, and the loss of quality of life inflicted on the existing neighborhoods.

I predict the next social engineering strategy will be for developers to fund "water conservation" and "mental health" advocacy groups, who will argue in favor of projects built with dormitory-style central bathroom and shower facilities in lieu of in-unit plumbing. They will produce studies that show this will save the environment as it combats alienation and depression by mandating personal interaction.

And the prices for rent or mortgage on these units will remain just as untouched.


dwbat Sept. 10, 2016 @ 10:39 a.m.

I don't see developers planning dorm-style rentals with shared bathrooms (like the old SRO hotels downtown). Even the new low-income projects (like Atmosphere at 4th & Beech) all offer private bathrooms, and that will continue.


Cassander Sept. 12, 2016 @ 9:44 a.m.

I think that's exactly where we're headed, "back to the future" with SROs. Again, the developer mantra is that density is good, more density the better. Whatever scheme allows them to maximize profit at the expense of livability they will endorse. Watch, it will first happen with housing the homeless.


dwbat Nov. 17, 2016 @ 6:16 p.m.

Can you provide any evidence to support your theory? What specific projects for the homeless can you cite?


dwbat Sept. 12, 2016 @ 12:04 p.m.

Cassander, I'm afraid you are incorrect. Apparently you are not familiar with the Hotel Churchill renovation. It was an old, empty SRO but was turned into studio apartments (with private bathrooms!) for the homeless. Read about it here: http://hdpartners.org/properties/the-churchill/


dwbat Sept. 12, 2016 @ 12:58 p.m.

To Kevin Sisterson on Facebook: RE: "just look at East village, the cranes dominate the skyline." Have you ventured downtown lately? Most of the cranes are now in other areas of downtown, NOT in East Village.


dwbat Oct. 3, 2016 @ 3:44 p.m.

October 3 update: CivicSD emailed that the project at 320 West Cedar will have meetings in October at 401 B Street, Suite 400 (4th Floor): October 11th / 5:15pm – DCPC pre-design sub-committee October 12th / 9am – Design Review Committee October 19th / 5:15pm – Downtown Community Planning Council (DCPC) Tentative: October 26th / 1pm – Civic Board


dwbat Nov. 19, 2016 @ 11:36 a.m.

November 18 update: The U-T reported the project has been asked for "further refinements to the design."


dwbat Jan. 26, 2017 @ 4:38 p.m.

January 26 update: The CivicSD Board of Directors recommended Jan. 25 that the Planning Commission approve the revised project. Now it will have 43 units, with 5 units reserved for very-low income tenants. There will now be 11 parking spaces underground, instead of NO parking. And 2,500 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail space.


dwbat Feb. 8, 2017 @ 2:55 p.m.

There will be a public hearing on the project by the Planning Commission on Feb. 23, starting at 9 a.m. Location: City Admin. Bldg., 202 C Street, Council Chambers, 12th floor.


dwbat June 18, 2017 @ 3:36 p.m.

June 18, 2017: This is the site today, when I went by.



dwbat June 19, 2017 @ 10:45 a.m.

The City Council will meet to approve or deny appeals on this project on June 20, at a 2 p.m. start time.


dwbat June 22, 2017 @ 10:48 a.m.

June 22 update: The City Council approved the project, after changes had been made.


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