A groundbreaking National City apartment project that includes retail and office space with an unusual mix of living spaces is setting a tone aimed at drawing other developers to the city center.
Designed by The Miller Hull Partnership for Malick Infill Development and Protea Property Management at 8th Street and B Avenue, the $35 million Parco project has 127 apartments in a mix of townhomes and flats meant for middle income tenants along with 6,378 square feet of retail space, 4,054 square feet of office space and 29,233 square feet of parking.
“The building wasn’t just about housing. It’s aimed to be a catalyst to spur downtown National City and revitalize the old Main Street,” said Andrew Malick, founder and principal of Malick Infill Development.
“As such, it featured ground floor retail that aimed to attract foot traffic. There are five ground floor boutique retail spaces that range in size from 400 square feet to 800 square feet,” Malick said. “There also is an anchor retail space of 3,000 square feet on 8th Street with 20-foot-tall ceilings and large roll-up doors which open to an existing alley which can be converted to outdoor dining.”
Malick said that Parco is across the street from a grocery store and a food hall that recently opened that includes a brewery and a beer garden.
“Parco truly allows our residents to live an urban walkable lifestyle,” Malick said. “We were very sensitive to the fact that the project would really set the tone for what downtown National City would be.”
Jeffrey Troutman, an architect with The Miller Hull Partnership, said that “early discussions were talking about how could you have a city within a single block. How could create the activity of a whole city in a micro sense tucked into a block and how could that energize the community.”
The residential portion of Parco filled up within weeks of its completion in October, Troutman said.
“There’s a ton of energy happening kind of right on that block. It’s really great to see how quickly and how active the community is already,” Troutman said.
A Mix of Growing Businesses
Malick said the strategy behind the retail portion of the project “was to design spaces that allowed local businesses to open up shop.”
“We wanted restaurant vendors that had great products but had outgrown the farmers’ market or food truck and were looking for their first brick and mortar,” Malick said.
Leases have been signed for three of the five boutique retail spaces, Malick said.
The building itself is a curious mix that includes an eight-story tower, an adjacent four-story building with the project stepping down to blend in with an adjacent residential neighborhood.
“As you wrap around B Street, the building steps down to four stories then it steps down further as you wrap even further toward the single family residential area,” Troutman said. “The front has a more of a vertical and urban aesthetic.”
The urban side of the structure has large storefront windows.
Rents Ranging from $1,600 to $2,000
On the residential side, Parco includes conventional apartments and co-living units.
“We focused on delivering an apartment home with a price point with nearly unlimited local demand,” Malick said. “We achieved an economically viable solution by design and optimizing small space living.”
Malick said that 94 of the 127 apartments in the project are about 400 square feet each with monthly rents ranging from about $1,600 to a little more than $2,000.
Of those 94 apartments, 30 were furnished with convertible furniture including a living area that converted to a bedroom with a pull-down Murphy bed. Monthly rents in the furnished apartments were about $200 higher than the base rents, Malick said.
There’s also an additional monthly parking fee of $100 to $150 for tenants who need parking. Motorcycle parking is $60 a month.
All of the apartments have built-in storage, “reducing the cost of furniture for tenants that didn’t opt for the fully furnished studio option,” Malick said. “Someone could move in to an unfurnished unit with a bed, a TV and a kitchen island with a couple of stools and not need much else.”
Co-living Apartments in Tower
The tower has 10 co-living apartments – five two-bedroom apartments and three three-bedroom apartments. There also are six co-living townhomes.
The five two-bedroom apartments in the tower are about 690 square feet and the bedrooms are 125 square feet and 140 square feet. They share a single bathroom, a kitchen and a living room.
The five three-bedroom apartments in the tower are 936 square feet each. The bedrooms range from 125 square feet to 140 square feet. They share a full bathroom and a half-bathroom, a kitchen and a living room.
The co-living townhomes include three with a 100-square-foot deck, three 1,370-square-foot units with three-bedrooms ranging from 100 square feet to 150 square feet. They each have a full bathroom and share a living area and kitchen.
There also are three four-bedroom co-living townhomes of 1,460 square feet with bedrooms ranging from 100 square feet to 150 square feet. They share three full bathrooms and one of the units in each townhome has its own bathroom. Each townhome has a shared kitchen and living area.
The residential portion of Parco also includes a furnished lobby similar to that of a hotel, a co-working area, two outdoor roof decks and two community rooms with full kitchens. One of the community rooms is what Malick described as a glassed-in box on the rooftop.
Designing Carbon Neutral Structures
The building also has six office suites above the street level retail space with a shared conference room.
Parco also was among the first projects in a new EMission Zero strategy by Miller Hull to design carbon neutral structures.
In the case of Parco, lumber was used instead of concrete wherever possible with two floors of concrete on lower levels and six floors of timber on the six floors of the tower.
Malick Infill Development
Founder and Principal: Andrew Malick
Headquarters: North Park
Business: real estate developer
The Miller Hull Partnership
Founding partners: David Miller and Bob Hull
San Diego leaders: Partner Ben Dalton and Principal Danielle Buttacavloi
San Diego employees: 25
Business: architecture and interior design
Notable: The firm in 2021 made a commitment to design all of its future projects to be carbon neutral.