A vacant C Street annex to the US Grant hotel is being transformed into a mixed-use project with retail space on the ground floor and offices on the second. Rendering courtesy of Hurkes Harris Design Associates.

A vacant C Street annex to the US Grant hotel is being transformed into a mixed-use project with retail space on the ground floor and offices on the second. Rendering courtesy of Hurkes Harris Design Associates.

To some, downtown San Diego’s C Street near City Hall is a sad place with boarded-up buildings where people live on the sidewalks.

To James Langley and Scott Dickson, it’s a street of possibilities.

“We personally love this side of town,” said Langley, a partner with Dickson in LDG Commercial Real Estate.

“It’s close to the Gaslamp (Quarter), but not in Gaslamp. We really see great opportunity coming for C Street,” Langley said.

In February 2016, LDG Commercial Real Estate opened Resident Brewing at 1065 Fourth Ave. near the corner of C Street.

The company’s latest venture is to renovate an annex to the US Grant hotel at 333 C St. that they’ve named the Julia in a nod to the wife of former president and former Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant, for whom the hotel is named.

Working with LDG on the project is Sumeet Parekh, managing partner of HP Investors, Wright Management, Hurkes Harris Design Associates and the Sycuan Tribe of the Kumeyaay Nation.

The Sycuan Tribe owns the hotel. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The annex stretches from Third Avenue to Fourth Avenue fronting on C Street.

Mixed-Use

The first floor of the renovated annex will have 7,380 square feet of retail space. The second floor will have 7,382 square feet of office space.

LDG is taking 3,904 square feet of the second floor as its new headquarters, leasing the rest.

“We kind of wanted to be one of the first projects to showcase what C Street could become and look like,” Langley said.

The building will get a whole new look, with 6,000 square feet of glass along the façade replaced to bring the windows up to energy-efficient codes adopted since the annex was built in 1985, said Tim Wright, president of Wright Management.

Originally meant to be used for office space, the annex was never fully built-out but was used mostly as storage space for the hotel and as a staging area for contractors working in the hotel, said Debra Aitken, director of project strategy for Wright Management.

“It’s really been dormant here since 1985,” Aitken said.

‘The Jewelry of the Project’

A new lobby entrance to the renovated annex on C Street will be dominated by a staircase leading to the second floor and a large chandelier with LED lighting along the upper walls near the ceiling.

“I see it as the jewelry of the project,” Aitken said.

Wright Management is renovating the portion of the second floor that LGD will use into sort of a hybrid between conventional office space and the wide open areas that have become popular in the past few years.

LDG tried the open office approach in its former location in the Union Bank building at 530 B St.

“The open space is good to some degree, but the challenge is when you get multiple people on phone calls, it tends to be a distraction and it’s harder to hear on both sides of the line,” Dickson said. “We tried to balance the open office with some degree of open space so we could have that community atmosphere but some people just need quiet space.”

A Hub for Interaction

The heart of the LDG space is an open area dubbed the hub, with a bar with a built-in keg at the center.

During the day, the hub will be used as a break room and collaborative work space. At night, it will be used for client receptions and other events.

“The hub is for people to interact with each other then dive back into their work space,” Wright said.

The work space in LDG's’s portion of the building consists of four offices and three phone rooms overlooking C Street or Fourth Avenue built around the hub.

The office space will be carpeted, but the floors elsewhere will be polished concrete to give sort of an industrial feel.

To one side of the hub is a Full Swing Golf simulator that uses a 16-foot by 20-foot video screen.

The other half of the second floor is largely unfinished for now, with the finish work depending on who leases the space, Wright said.

Langley said he’s hoping the renovation of the Julia will prompt more redevelopment along C Street to make it a place that attracts tourists but is comfortable for locals as well.

His vision is for C Street to become a collection of beer tasting rooms where people could sample a wide variety of brews without leaving downtown along with locally owned small shops and restaurants.

“We could create something that has never been done before,” Langley said.