San Diego Business Journal

If it seems like there’s been lots of churn lately in downtown San Diego’s commercial scene, there’s even more on the way in the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy.

Civic San Diego, the city’s project oversight agency, recently received an application from Briad Development East LLC, which plans to build what is currently referred to as AC Hotel at 744 Sixth Ave. in the Gaslamp.

According to Briad’s application, the seven-story hotel would have 119 rooms, 4,995 square-feet of restaurant and retail space, and 36 parking spaces in one level of subterranean parking. The project would retain and rehabilitate an existing historical façade on the building, which is currently known as the Gaslamp Galleria.

The applicant is requesting a conditional use permit that would allow it to build up to 75 feet high, beyond the site’s current 60-foot limit. The developer also plans a nightclub in the basement, with live entertainment on a proposed rooftop pool deck and bar area.

Also in the Gaslamp, Latin Flavor Inc. has applied for a permit that would allow it to present live entertainment at The New Yorker, the bar and pizza restaurant that it currently operates at 535 Fourth Ave.

The latest in Little Italy includes Pan Bon, an Italian market set to debut later this year among other businesses on the ground floor of the recently opened Ariel Suites luxury apartment tower. Anselmi Brothers LLC, operator of Pan Bon, has applied with the city to operate a 340-square-foot outdoor dining area at the market, located at 1450 Kettner Blvd.

Elsewhere in Little Italy, San Diego investment firms Fabric Investments and Creative House recently announced that they have joined to purchase a small office building, on a corner lot at 444 W. Cedar St., for an undisclosed price. The seller was Local 501 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which owned and occupied the 652-square-foot building for several years.

The new owners have formed an entity called Creative Fabric I LLC, with plans to lease the building and adjacent parking in early 2015 to a retail tenant. A conceptual rendering released by the buyers envisions the union building being converted to a café, though a specific tenant has not been announced.

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Local Hotels Get Makeovers: There’s almost never a time when at least one San Diego County hotel isn’t doing something to update its look or amenities. Among the latest to get a multimillion-dollar renovation is The Declan Suites, located at 701 A St. in downtown San Diego’s Cortez Hill neighborhood.

Operators did not disclose an exact project figure, but said the former Sheraton Suites property underwent a four-month makeover that included its entry, 12th-floor lobby, meeting spaces, bar and restaurant. The 264-room property now has a music theme, tying into the hotel’s proximity to Copley Symphony Hall, with areas that have vintage records on the walls and Bohemian guitars available for guests to play.

With a redesign overseen by Design 360 Unlimited of Los Angeles, the hotel’s Deck 12 now has a 5,400-square-foot restaurant, bar lounge and private meeting space. Owner Westbrook Partners and manager Highgate Hotels plan to offer live acoustic music performances and an on-site Friday Farmers Market.

Also recently completing a facelift was the Hilton San Diego Del Mar, at 15575 Jimmy Durante Blvd. in Del Mar. Operators said the $15 million project included the hotel’s lobby, business and fitness centers, restaurant, meeting spaces and all 257 guest rooms.

New flooring and furniture were installed throughout the property, which is owned by Wheelock Street Capital and managed by Sage Hospitality.

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Escondido Apartments on Sales Streak: Escondido in the past few weeks has seen some sizable prices paid for some older apartment properties with under 100 units, reflecting continued investor interest in multifamily buildings at a time of rising rents in San Diego County.

Among the latest reported deals was the $9.9 million purchase of Windsong Villas, a 67-unit complex at 1202-1214 N. Broadway, by Claus Family Trust of Del Mar. The property was built in 1968 and last sold for $7.7 million in 2009, according to CoStar Group.

The seller in the latest deal was The Apartment Co. of Encinitas, represented by Eric Comer, James Neil and Merrick Matricardi, of brokerage company CBRE Group Inc.

About two weeks earlier, Vista International Inc. of San Francisco purchased the 96-unit Tanglewood Apartments, built in 1975 at 1920 E. Grand Ave., for approximately $10.8 million, CoStar Group reported. The seller, Mark Schmidt Trust of San Diego, was represented by Christopher Zorbas and David Sperling of brokerage company Marcus & Millichap Inc., with the buyer represented by Krystle Moore of Pacific Shore Capital.

In late July, Viewpoint Equities Inc. of San Diego purchased a 51-unit Escondido apartment property at 145-225 West El Norte Pkwy. for approximately $7.9 million, according to CoStar Group. The seller of that property, built in 1988, was Janez Properties Inc. of San Diego, represented by Steve Huffman and Allen Chitayat of brokerage company Berkadia.

Send commercial real estate and development news of general local interest to Lou Hirsh via email at lhirsh@sdbj.com. He can be reached at 858-277-8904.