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Redevelopment Arm OKs Proposal for Historic Block on Market Street

A downtown city block once slated to become little more than another reinforced-concrete parking lot may soon host apartments, condos, a hotel and a police substation, as well as public art and retail space.

A committee of the Centre City Development Corp. voted March 26 to accept a proposal by the joint venture of Related/City Link Investment to develop the 55,000-square-foot block bounded by Seventh Avenue on the west, Market Street on the north, Eighth Avenue on the east and Island Avenue on the south.

Related LP is based in New York, while City Link Investment Corp. is based in downtown San Diego.

On March 28, the full CCDC board approved an exclusive negotiation agreement with Related/City Link that paves the way for the two to discuss finances.

In Related/City Link’s proposal, total development costs for developing the block are listed at $298 million.

“It’s envisioned to be a fairly extensive mixed-use project,” said John Collum, senior project manager with the Centre City Development Corp., the city’s planning and redevelopment agency that oversees downtown redevelopment projects.

CCDC owns the block, excluding a privately owned, 56-room hotel designated a historic landmark because of its relationship with African Americans who visited the city.

The venerable Clermont Hotel, once advertised as “a hotel for colored people,” was built in 1887.

The history of the property is expected to play a big role in the redevelopment project, which may include public art or some other kind of homage to an area dubbed the Harlem of the West in the 1920s.

In its proposal to CCDC, Related/City Link proposed a project that was roughly 1 percent police storefront and cultural space, 2 percent retail/restaurant, 21 percent condos, 35 percent hotel and 41 percent apartments.

The proposed hotel would feature 220 rooms, according to city documents that have been filed with CCDC.

The overall project would include 418 apartments and condos, with the average size being 753 square feet.

About 20 percent of the units would be considered affordable housing, and offered to residents with lower incomes.

Representatives for Related/City Link were unavailable to give details of their proposal.

According to Derek Danziger, communications director for CCDC, the process of selecting a developer for Seventh and Market began several months ago.

Related/City Link was among seven original proposal submitters, a pool that was later whittled to three, then two and, finally, just one last week.

“Basically, our board said we had a much greater opportunity to do more,” Danziger said. “Parking will still be an essential element, but now there’s room to develop other things.”

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