East Village, the site of many a new luxury apartment tower, is getting something different — an apartment project that is relatively short at seven stories and not all glass and steel like many of its competitors.
The $140 million Modera San Diego is being built at the southeast corner of 14th and K streets by Mill Creek Residential.
Zoning for the site wouldn’t allow a tower.
Aside from its relatively diminutive stature, Modera is notable for a design that changes from modern to historic from one side of the building to the next in keeping with the look of the neighborhood.
“We tried to design the architecture so each façade was complementary to its surroundings,” said John Colletti, Mill Creek Residential vice president of development in Southern California.
As designed by Carrier Johnson + Culture, the north side of the building will have a contemporary look with storefronts on the ground level, he said.
The look shifts to a more historical appearance with a brick façade and industrial casement windows on the south side reminiscent of East Village’s history as a warehouse district and to blend in with the 1897 brick Wonder Bread Building at 1441 L St., that is now home to Mission Brewery, Colletti said.
The Other Stories
Modera is dwarfed by some of its neighbors, including the 45-story Pinnacle on the Park Phase 1 at 424 15th St., the 23-story K1 at 330 13th St., the 19-story Alexan at 300 14th St. and the 21-story Shift at 1501 Island Ave.
Modera will have 368 apartments, ranging from an average of about 600 square feet to an average of about 1,300 square feet with monthly rents ranging from about $2,000 to about $4,500, he said. The building should be ready for tenants in spring 2021.
Amenities will include two outdoor courtyards, a 5,100 square-foot sky lounge with a pool and spa, fireside gathering areas, two outdoor kitchens, a fitness studio, coworking spaces, a clubhouse, conference rooms, four bowling alleys, a lobby lounge, parcel storage lockers and a dog run and grooming station.
The target market is “a mix of young singles and couples” between the ages of 35 and 37 who choose to live in the area because of its proximity to the Gaslamp Quarter and a vibrant restaurant and entertainment scene, Colletti said.
“That is the predominant renters market,” he said. “As people get deeper into their careers, they tend to start families and move out of that downtown core.”
Modera San Diego is Mill Creek Residential’s first project in San Diego County, although the company has several projects in Orange County, Colletti said.
The East Village site was once part of the property that city officials looked at as a possible location for a downtown football stadium before the Chargers took off for Los Angeles.
As long as the Chargers were in play, the site sat idle.
But with the Chargers gone, Mill Creek moved quickly to entitle it for development of Modera.
East Village is in the midst of a development boom, with new projects popping up throughout what had become a neighborhood in decline.
“Every time I wake up, there’s a new project going up in our neighborhood,” said Dora McCann Guerreiro, executive director of the East Village Association.
“We are growing out as a residential community. However, we want to make sure we preserve our cultural history,” Guerreiro said. “We want to preserve the authenticity of the neighborhood, make sure the new buildings going up are aesthetically complementary to the community of a mixed use village.”
Although the apartment towers that are going up in East Village are a departure from its past, Guerreiro said they fit in because they’re grouped in the same part of the village.
“They’re big, spiral buildings but they’re clumped together,” Guerreiro said. “They complement each other where they are in the neighborhood. In other pockets of the East Village, we are preserving the historical facades that are there.
Guerreiro wasn’t familiar with the Modera project, but said the design sounded intriguing for the effort to blend in with the Wonder Bread building.
The development push in East Village is likely to continue, said Darcy Miramontes, who leads the California multifamily team for the commercial brokerage firm JLL.
With Modera one of several apartment projects going in, there may be increased competition for tenants, but demand is so high that it won’t last, she said.
No Oversupply Issue
“There is a short-term supply pipeline in East Village but it doesn’t go on forever and there really is no long-term oversupply issue in downtown San Diego or in San Diego in general,” Miramontes said. “Most of the buildings in East Village have been leasing fairly well, even in light of the submarket competition and the slow-leasing winter months, which we’re going through right now.”
Along with the apartment projects, several commercial projects are underway or planned.
“East Village has really been filling in in terms of the commercial facilities from retail, to restaurants, to entertainment,” Miramontes said. “Those will continue to fill in and we have more incubators coming in.”
As that happens, Guerreiro, of the East Village Association, said she hopes East Village develops an identity as more of a residential community than a tourist destination like the Gaslamp Quarter or a regional attraction like Little Italy.
“It will be bigger, but the appeal will be for the residents, the residential community more so than the tourist community,” Guerreiro said.
Real estate writer Ray Huard can be reached at email@example.com or 858-277-8904