San Diego Business Journal

A construction company that specializes in renovating affordable and senior housing apartment complexes has recently finished work on a downtown San Diego project and is working on two others in San Diego County.

With construction headquarters in San Diego and Orange County, MFRG-ICON is expanding its operations throughout California, Arizona, Washington, Montana and Colorado because demand for renovating aging apartment complexes is so strong, said Bradley Wright, the company’s COO who has been promoted to president.

“Some of these communities haven’t been touched in over 15 years,” Wright said.

After an apartment has been renovated, “You’ll never see anything like the face of a resident that walks into their unit because they’ve lived with the same appliances, the same carpet, the same bathrooms for 15 years and now they get this space,” Wright said.

Specializing

MFRG-ICON specializes in renovating senior and affordable housing projects while the buildings are occupied.

Typically, tenants are given temporary housing in hotels or paid a stipend to live with relatives while the renovations are done on their apartments, Wright said.

The company’s latest San Diego County projects include renovation of Luther Tower in downtown San Diego, renovation of the side-by-side Kimball Tower and Morgan Tower in National City, and renovation of Wesley Terrace in Talmadge.

“San Diego is one of the pillars for the company,” Wright said, adding that San Diego projects account for about 40 percent of the company’s work.

“San Diego has done an outstanding job in really being innovative in affordable housing as well as housing for the homeless. A lot of companies in the affordable housing industry have targeted San Diego because of that strong collaboration with the city.”

Luther Tower

Of its San Diego projects, Luther Tower is likely it’s most prominent. Renovation of Luther Tower was finished at the end of 2019, Wright said.

Built in 1964 in a seedier section of the city that later became the Gaslamp Quarter, the 14-story Luther Tower had no significant work done on it since then beyond routine maintenance.

Luther Tower was sold in 2017 by First Lutheran Development Inc. for $9 million to Tower Housing Partners, comprised of The Rahd Group and DAL Development. Renovations at the time were estimated to cost $11 million.

The deal ensured that the apartments would be kept as affordable housing for low income seniors for 55 years.

The project has 200 apartments and Wright said the renovations were extensive, with “all new plumbing, new windows, new bathrooms, a new roof and upgrades to the entire common area.”

“We did a complete interior renovation there,” Wright said.

Other Projects

MFRG-ICON also is renovating Kimball Tower and Morgan Tower – twin nine-story buildings in downtown National City.

Community Housing Works acquired the buildings last year in a $62.5 million deal with the Community Development Commission of the National City Housing Authority with renovation estimated to cost about $30 million.

Morgan Tower is the older of the two towers – built in 1979 with 152 one-bedroom apartments and the George H. Waters Nutrition center.

Kimball Tower was built in 1986 with 151 one-bedroom apartments.

Wright said the work entailed “substantial renovation of all major systems, sustainable upgrades for apartments, community areas (and) landscape amenities.”

In ongoing work, MFRG-ICON is renovating the nine-story Wesley Terrace at5343 Monroe Ave. with 160 apartments.

The work includes all new plumbing, new windows, new unit interiors and bathrooms, a new roof, and upgrades to all the common areas, Wright said.