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Father Joe’s Redeveloping Skydiving Center to Apts.

REAL ESTATE: $115M Project Adds 176 Units to East Village

SAN DIEGO – Father Joe’s Villages has been selected by San Diego city officials to redevelop the former Skydiving Center in East Village into a $115 million affordable housing tower.

The center at 1401 Imperial Ave. has been used as a Homeless Response Center after the Skydiving Center closed in 2017.

Deacon Jim Vargas
President & CEO
Father Joe’s Villages

“It’s going to be an adaptive reuse project where we use what’s there now.” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages.

“It would be extremely expensive to tear it down. It was built extremely well,” Vargas said.

The site is adjacent to St. Teresa de Calcutta Villa, a $148 million affordable apartment tower with 407 apartments that opened in January 2022, near the headquarters of Father Joe’s Villages.

St. Teresa is Father Joe’s largest project to date, and one that Vargas said will likely not be duplicated.

“I don’t know that we’ll ever get to the scale of St. Teresa of Calcutta,” Vargas said.

Pipeline of Projects

The Skydiving Center property will be converted into a 15-story tower with 176 apartments in a mix of studio and one-bedroom units ranging from 350 square feet to 600 square feet.

The existing building will serve as the base of the redevelopment project, with the new apartments built above it, Vargas said.

“Over the years, this property has been evaluated for many different purposes,” Vargas said adding that the building “will soon become the future home to hundreds of San Diegans at risk or experiencing homelessness.”

“By repurposing the existing site, while employing high-performance building materials, we can scale the building to 15 floors with 176 units of 100% affordable housing,” Vargas said.

“In addition to affordable housing, future residents will have access to wrap-around services that Father Joe’s Village offers, such as physical and behavioral health, social supports and employment services which will help residents attain self-sufficiency and success.”

Vargas said that about half the apartments will be earmarked for people with mental or physical challenges or who have had substance abuse issues.

“It will be a nice cross section of those we serve in general,” Vargas said.

The goal is to start construction in September 2026 after Father Joe’s signs a formal agreement with the city and identifies funding sources, with completion expected in 2028.

The redevelopment of the Skydiving Center is part of what Father Joe’s has called its turnkey initiative to provide 2,000 affordable apartments by 2025.
“We have a number of projects in the pipeline right now,” Vargas said.

They include a $50 million to $60 million apartment complex at 17th and Commercial streets for homeless families, individuals and people with disabilities.

Vargas said that Father Joe’s is also working with Oceanside city officials on what would be the organization’s first project outside of San Diego city proper.

Father Joe’s Villages
FOUNDED: 1950 as St. Mary of the Wayside Chapel
CEO: Deacon Jim Vargas
HEADQUARTERS: East Village
BUSINESS: Nonprofit agency serving people who are homeless
EMPLOYEES: 400+
WEBSITE: www.my.neighbor.org
CONTACT: 619-466-3537
NOTABLE: Fr. Joe Carroll, for whom Father Joe’s Villages is named, took charge of St. Vincent de Paul Center in November 1982 and retired in November 2011. He died in 2021.

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