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Pernicano's Hillcrest property goes to San Francisco group

Developed BLVD63 near San Diego State

Besides the Pernicano’s building the property has two parking lots next door on Sixth Ave. plus the Casa di Baffi.
Besides the Pernicano’s building the property has two parking lots next door on Sixth Ave. plus the Casa di Baffi.

Pernicano’s in Hillcrest was a popular eatery for years, especially for sports celebs. Colorful owner George Pernicano owned three percent of the San Diego Chargers (seven percent originally). His restaurant closed in 1985, and has been vacant ever since.

Jump to 2019, when Carmel Partners Inc., a developer headquartered in San Francisco, paid $8.5 million. The asking price had been $12 million, but earlier pending sales fell through.

George Pernicano owned three percent of the San Diego Chargers.

Besides the Pernicano’s building (3840 Sixth Ave.) with its approximately 25,000-square-feet of space, the property includes two parking lots on Sixth Ave. (3818-24 and 3828-30). In addition, an attached building at 3833 Fifth Ave. housed his other restaurant, Casa di Baffi.

Real estate broker Jeanine Savory of The Savory Group sold the property. Savory said the property zoning is “currently CC 3-9, which is one unit per 400 square feet prior to any density bonuses for affordable housing.”

The San Diego inclusionary housing ordinance (effective July 2020) requires new residential and mixed-use developments to include 10 percent of the rental units as affordable housing. That pertains to individuals with income up to 60 percent of area median income. An alternative choice for a developer is a hefty fee, currently $17.60 per square foot of the property.

Pernicano's property (in yellow)

Savory had former plans for the project, named Hillcrest Gateway. But she said it looks unlikely that Carmel “plans to utilize the previous concept.” As for the naming, Savory hopes it will “somehow be incorporated. I am excited to see them break ground.”

Tom Mullaney, chair of Uptown Planners, is not so pleased. Mullaney told me, "Has the city of San Diego changed the zoning code so much that projects can be reviewed and approved with no public input?" He added, "As chair of Uptown Planners, I have not received any notice of a development project at the former Pernicano's site."

Per its website, Uptown Planners "is the only legally recognized community planning group (advisory board) to the City of San Diego regarding land use, development, and discretionary projects in Uptown," including Hillcrest.

Benjamin Nichols, executive director of Hillcrest Business Assn., welcomes the new project. Nichols said. “I think Pernicano’s was always a psychological barrier for developers that Hillcrest was off-limits. But with the demo of this building underway, the dam is breaking.”

Nichols says he’s “been in contact with Carmel for about a year, and they've been very communicative.” He proclaimed that with “new construction underway” on Hillcrest streets, “Hillcrest is having a residential renaissance.”

Carmel developed “BLVD63,” a controversial 332-unit residence near SDSU. A Reader article reported on the legal actions, and a $150,000 fee paid by Carmel to the city. The company was asked for comments on their new project, but no response has been received.

Courtney Pittam, press secretary for Mayor Todd Gloria, said the mayor “has not been briefed about any future plans for the site.”

The two buildings were not considered historic. Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organisation, offered this statement: “We are not opposing” this Hillcrest property teardown.

Gary Pernicano, son of George, offered his thoughts on the sale: “It’s an emotional transition having so many memories there.” He stated that “his parents opened it in August of 1946, when they introduced the West Coast to pizza.”

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Besides the Pernicano’s building the property has two parking lots next door on Sixth Ave. plus the Casa di Baffi.
Besides the Pernicano’s building the property has two parking lots next door on Sixth Ave. plus the Casa di Baffi.

Pernicano’s in Hillcrest was a popular eatery for years, especially for sports celebs. Colorful owner George Pernicano owned three percent of the San Diego Chargers (seven percent originally). His restaurant closed in 1985, and has been vacant ever since.

Jump to 2019, when Carmel Partners Inc., a developer headquartered in San Francisco, paid $8.5 million. The asking price had been $12 million, but earlier pending sales fell through.

George Pernicano owned three percent of the San Diego Chargers.

Besides the Pernicano’s building (3840 Sixth Ave.) with its approximately 25,000-square-feet of space, the property includes two parking lots on Sixth Ave. (3818-24 and 3828-30). In addition, an attached building at 3833 Fifth Ave. housed his other restaurant, Casa di Baffi.

Real estate broker Jeanine Savory of The Savory Group sold the property. Savory said the property zoning is “currently CC 3-9, which is one unit per 400 square feet prior to any density bonuses for affordable housing.”

The San Diego inclusionary housing ordinance (effective July 2020) requires new residential and mixed-use developments to include 10 percent of the rental units as affordable housing. That pertains to individuals with income up to 60 percent of area median income. An alternative choice for a developer is a hefty fee, currently $17.60 per square foot of the property.

Pernicano's property (in yellow)

Savory had former plans for the project, named Hillcrest Gateway. But she said it looks unlikely that Carmel “plans to utilize the previous concept.” As for the naming, Savory hopes it will “somehow be incorporated. I am excited to see them break ground.”

Tom Mullaney, chair of Uptown Planners, is not so pleased. Mullaney told me, "Has the city of San Diego changed the zoning code so much that projects can be reviewed and approved with no public input?" He added, "As chair of Uptown Planners, I have not received any notice of a development project at the former Pernicano's site."

Per its website, Uptown Planners "is the only legally recognized community planning group (advisory board) to the City of San Diego regarding land use, development, and discretionary projects in Uptown," including Hillcrest.

Benjamin Nichols, executive director of Hillcrest Business Assn., welcomes the new project. Nichols said. “I think Pernicano’s was always a psychological barrier for developers that Hillcrest was off-limits. But with the demo of this building underway, the dam is breaking.”

Nichols says he’s “been in contact with Carmel for about a year, and they've been very communicative.” He proclaimed that with “new construction underway” on Hillcrest streets, “Hillcrest is having a residential renaissance.”

Carmel developed “BLVD63,” a controversial 332-unit residence near SDSU. A Reader article reported on the legal actions, and a $150,000 fee paid by Carmel to the city. The company was asked for comments on their new project, but no response has been received.

Courtney Pittam, press secretary for Mayor Todd Gloria, said the mayor “has not been briefed about any future plans for the site.”

The two buildings were not considered historic. Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organisation, offered this statement: “We are not opposing” this Hillcrest property teardown.

Gary Pernicano, son of George, offered his thoughts on the sale: “It’s an emotional transition having so many memories there.” He stated that “his parents opened it in August of 1946, when they introduced the West Coast to pizza.”

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15

Déjà vu all over again. As another Reader article (by Dorian Hargrove) noted,

“I completed a plan that was begun in 2011 to engage with the Uptown plan process that sidestepped the Uptown Planners and proposed a business friendly agenda for the plan,” wrote Nicholls in his June 2016 annual performance review to the association’s board of directors. https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2...

As both a private corporation and a city contractor, it's a conflict of interest for them to work with developers against our elected community members. But the city continues to look the other way. People need to ask them why.

Nov. 1, 2021

The whole drawn-out saga of that property has been amusing for spectators like myself. Those eateries were well known because of ol' George's self-promotion and malignant ego. The experiences of visiting them and getting some really poor service and treatment were not amusing at all. How the old jerk managed to keep them going for as long as he did is a mystery to me. Ahh, but that was thirty five years ago, and for all the time in between, they stood there like relics or ruins of a different time, which they were.

I really feel for Gary P who now calls the sale an "emotional transition" due to his "memories.' It was he, in particular, who refused to reopen the restaurants and run them like a business. Gary can cry all the way to the bank, where his share of the $ millions will be waiting for him. I kept looking for the sales price this time, and didn't find it. But it's gotta be a lot.

I was pleased to note that the author got it right about the two different restaurants. So often over the years the descriptions were of one restaurant, due to the confusing signage. The Casa di Baffi was an attempt to have a true gourmet Italian experience, but the place was rather funky and downscale despite the prices that, at the time, rivaled those of Mr. A's and Lubach's.

Hillcrest has got to be better for having those properties repurposed.

Nov. 1, 2021

The purchase price is in the 2nd paragraph: $8.5 million. It's a shame that it sat empty for decades, and became the worst eyesore in Hillcrest. I anticipate that there will be more controversy as the project develops, especially regarding affordable units.

Nov. 2, 2021

The space should emerge from its years of slumber as a rehab facility/shelter for the unhoused. Better that than another overpriced beanery.

Nov. 2, 2021

It will likely have ground floor retail, but I haven't heard anything about a restaurant. And Carmel Partners will put in what will maximize their profits.

Nov. 2, 2021

This location should be an ice skating/figure skating, roller skating or roller derby depending on skater preference. Hillcrest is all about tolerance, diversity and acceptance.

Nov. 2, 2021

Highly unlikely to see a skating rink there. But something to celebrate Hillcrest diversity sounds interesting.

Nov. 2, 2021

What does skating around in circles have to do with tolerance, diversity, and acceptance? And isn't roller derby a tad violent?

Nov. 2, 2021

Ice skating stars were originally only women, but now it's many gay men. Johnny Weir comes to mind. Roller derby reminds me of 1975's "Rollerball," which upped the ante. I didn't see the 2002 version.

Nov. 2, 2021

Don't forget "Kansas City Bomber" starring Raquel Welch.

Nov. 2, 2021

Forget it? I own a copy!

Nov. 2, 2021
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Nov. 4, 2021

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