LeBeau Realty & Associates has finished building a six-story downtown office building and restaurant on the site of a former Bank of America branch office downtown.
The $37 million project included renovations to the ground floor of an adjacent 20-story office-tower at 401 B St. owned by LeBeau Realty and construction of the new 90,000 square foot office building at 450 B St.
The project was named Twenty by Six as a way of indicating that the two buildings are part of the same complex.
Designed by Gensler with C.W. Driver Companies as the general contractor for construction of the new building, the project posed some unusual construction challenges because it included demolition of the bank building that was on top of a three-level underground parking garage.
The 165,000 square-foot garage extends beneath the office tower and was retained to provide parking for the tower and the new building and was open during construction of new building.
That complicated removal of the concrete structure that was the bank building, said Todd Rider, senior project manager of C.W. Driver Companies.
Razing the Old
The actual demolition was done by AG Demolition & Environmental Services based Pacific Highway near San Diego International Airport overseen by C.W. Driver Companies.
“We had to strategically demolish it piece by piece,” Rider said. “We couldn’t do it in a more traditional way where you knock the building down. We had to cut it into small pieces and haul it out.”
There was more.
Because the old bank building shared the concrete podium of the parking garage, “We couldn’t have too much vibration during the demolition to rattle the (tower) building,” Rider said. “We did a few things to kind of disconnect the podium in key areas from the 20-story building to reduce the vibration against the building.”
As the bank building was being demolished, the parking garage had to be reinforced so it would be strong enough to support the new steel structure building above it and better withstand earthquakes.
“We were doing all this in concert,” Rider said.
Multiple columns and beams were added throughout the parking garage at each floor to support the new building, which had a larger footprint that the old bank building.
Further complications hit as construction started just as the COVD-19 pandemic hit in March 2019.
“We were able to stay on track by changing some of the scheduling,” Rider said. “We were still able to substantially complete when they (LeBeau) wanted it, 19 months to build.”
The new office building was built to achieve LEED Silver certification, using recycled material wherever possible, Rider said.
Offices have balconies, movable walls that open to the outdoors, and 10-foot tall windows with operable sections that allow fresh air to enter.
The tower and the adjacent smaller building share a 13,000 square-foot courtyard along 4th Avenue and B Street with outdoor fireplaces and seating.
Paul LeBeau, principal of LeBeau Realty & Associates, said the new building and its surroundings are meant to give a suburban feel to a project in a very urban setting.
LeBeau said the finished six-story office building exceeded expectations “in terms of what we were trying to achieve” with strong connections to the outdoors.
In addition to the new office building, the project includes a stand-alone building of about 2,000 square feet with outdoor patios that will be used for a locally-sourced restaurant.
“We’re in discussions with three operators for the café/restaurant,” LeBeau said. “They’re all household names.”
Renovations to the tower building included adding a gym, remodeling the old building lobby to include office space and a conference area.
Bycor General Contractors based in Miramar was the general contractor on the tower renovations.
LeBeau said the remodeled lobby space has already been leased to Civilian, a marketing firm.
He said negotiations are ongoing for a technology company to take the top two floors of the new building and there’s been strong interest in leasing the rest of the building.
So much office space in traditional markets such as UTC and Sorrento Mesa is being converted to life science that downtown is becoming a strong alternative.
“If you’re looking to expand in San Diego or grow or come to San Diego, by default, you’re going to have to come down here,” LeBeau said. “We’ve had some tech tenants who are already downtown and some who are looking to move out of UTC.”
C.W. Driver Companies
Chairman and CEO: Dana Roberts
Business: general contractor
Revenue: $615 million in 2020
Notable: Founded by Clarence Wike Driver and John MacDonald, C.W. Driver Companies is the oldest licensed builder headquartered in Southern California