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Little Italy to Get the ‘Final Piece’ in Revitalization Effort

Downtown San Diego continued to percolate this month with the Aug. 11 groundbreaking of a $2.4 million project in Little Italy to improve the infrastructure billed as the “final piece” in a long effort to stimulate development there.

“It will improve the public space, control the flow of vehicular traffic and create a more pedestrian-friendly environment,” said Hal Sadler, the chairman of the Centre City Development Corp., the city’s planning and redevelopment agency that oversees Downtown redevelopment projects.

The project will remake the public right of way along India Street from Grape to Laurel streets.

Some history, courtesy of CCDC: In 1995, the agency introduced a three-stage plan to revitalize Little Italy. This included the Little Italy Neighborhood Developers project, a joint venture of CCDC, developer Barone Galasso & Associates, and the architects Jonathan Segal and Ted Smith. This created 76 new housing units on the block bounded by Kettner Boulevard and Cedar, India and Beech streets.

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The second part of the plan included the creation of Amici Park, a 50,000-square-foot park in a formerly blighted corner of Downtown, bounded by Date Street and Interstate 5. The park now is shared by the community and Washington Elementary School.

The third part is the revitalization of India Street, including new sidewalks, curbs, gutters, irrigated street trees, tree grates, landscaped planters and street lighting, and is expected to be finished by the summer of 2006.

Meanwhile, Watt Genton Associates recently hosted a grand opening to mark the completion of the Broadway Lofts, the renovation and reuse of the historic First National Bank building.

Developed by Watt Genton in partnership with Barrow Street, Broadway Lofts offers 84 loft-style condos, with ground-floor retail in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Located on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, the 12-story Broadway Lofts features condos that range from 765 to 1,200 square feet, and four penthouses, of about 900 square feet.

Still more history, courtesy of the developer: Built in 1909 on a 10,000-square-foot parcel, the building was originally developed as the First National Bank and was considered to be San Diego’s first high-rise office tower. Franklin P. Burnham, a renowned architect of classical libraries and government buildings in the early 1900s, designed the building.

The current renovation builds on the 1940s modern design, while recalling key features of the original 1909 architecture, they tell us.

A couple of other Downtown developments: Realtor Caryl Iseman, a longtime fixture in the Gaslamp Quarter, opened the new headquarters of her Associated Realtors at 903 Island Ave., in a restored home on the corner of Ninth and Island, a half-block from Petco Park.

Lennar, a national homebuilding company, recently announced the relocation of its San Diego urban division to its new Downtown office at 701 B St.

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Big Deals: Hines-Sumisei U.S. Core Office Fund, L.P. has acquired Golden Eagle Plaza in San Diego for $116.8 million from Triple Net Properties, Inc. Hines, an international real estate firm, will manage the property.

The Core Fund is an investment vehicle organized by Hines and Sumitomo Life Realty, Inc. to acquire a diverse portfolio of core office buildings in the United States.

Golden Eagle Plaza is a 22-story office building containing 423,546 square feet at 525 B St. in Downtown’s historic district. The building, designed by Langdon & Wilson of Los Angeles, was completed in 1969 and renovated in 1998. The building, which includes an attached six-story garage, is about 98 percent leased to tenants that include Golden Eagle Insurance, Elsevier Inc., and the Navy.

Intracorp San Diego LLC, a real estate development company, has acquired the land and development plans for Watermark Waikiki, a planned luxury residential tower in Honolulu, for $43 million.

The company purchased the site and plans from Los Angeles-based Irongate Ala Wai Investors LLC.

Plans for the 38-story residential high-rise include 212 condos and a 466-stall parking garage, with unit prices ranging from $800,000 to $1 million and up.

Equastone, formerly Equus Realty Advisors, LLC, a real estate investment firm, has acquired the six-story Class B office building at 925 B St. in Downtown for $10 million from Fidelity National Financial.

The building, previously known as the Chicago Title Building, contains 66,000 rentable square feet, and was 100 percent vacant at the time of sale.

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Kudos: The California Landscape Contractors Association, San Diego chapter, bestowed three top awards on San Diego County-based companies: Sweepstakes Award for best overall project went to Schnetz Landscape Inc. of Escondido for the Buck residence in Rancho Santa Fe; Judges Award for best residential landscape maintenance to Nature Designs Landscaping of Vista for the Bear residence in Carlsbad; and President’s Award for best residential landscape construction project to Schnetz Landscape for the Pardee residence in Pauma Valley.

The CLCA is a nonprofit statewide trade association of licensed landscape and landscape-related specialty contractors.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage San Diego/Riverside’s LeadRouter won a 2005 Inman Innovator Award for most innovative technology, recently presented at the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco.

LeadRouter is designed to let sales associates answer prospective customer online questions within minutes.


Send residential and commercial real estate news to pbroderick@sdbj.com or via fax at (858) 571-3628.

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