Much of our real estate consulting practice calls for focusing on small areas around Southern California. Most often, we concentrate on a project’s ZIP code, as virtually every ZIP code has a distinct demographic profile. Here I am focusing on 92103 — Bankers Hill, Hillcrest and Mission Hills, although a small part of Bankers Hill — below Laurel Street — is in 92101.
The demographic snapshot of 92103 is not surprising, but still interesting: It is 85 percent non-Latino white with a median age of 41. Only 10 percent of the population is younger than 20; 25 percent are married, but 50 percent never have been. More than 55 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some 86 percent of the households have only one or two persons. And one-third of the households are owner-occupied; two-thirds rent.
While downtown San Diego is bursting with new development — take a look — 92103 is moving along at a turtle’s pace. As the Uptown Planning Group is hostile to anything taller than 30 feet — it thinks 92103 is in the coastal zone — there isn’t much occurring that smells like a skyscraper.
The biggest things that have surfaced in the past year or so is the new Vons at Dove and Washington streets and, farther away, the Sharp Rees-Stealy Clinic at Third Avenue and Fir Street, an AVRP Studios creation.
Nearing completion is the thrilling one-story Walgreen’s at Third and University avenues. That site was destined for a wonderful new condominium project, but the NIMBYs killed it, much to the chagrin of its developers and fans of good urban planning.
On the condominium front, Mayfair’s planned 13-story Biarritz was recently finished out as a low-rise known as Park on Sixth in 92101. The 30-unit project sold out with virtually no marketing and no fanfare. The typical 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom units sold in the low $400,000s — a genuine bargain considering its stellar location facing the park.
Also in the condominium mode, Colrich is getting ready to break ground on a 45-unit, six-story luxury complex at Fifth Avenue and Nutmeg Street, directly south of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The units will range from 1,400 to 2,200 square feet and have full views of Balboa Park. Prices have not been announced yet.
On the rental scene, Alliance is under way on a grandfathered midrise on Fourth Avenue at Thorne Street. The Carrier-Johnson creation will have 100 units and should be ready in about a year for move-in.
John Hammer is converting the old Blood Bank building on Upas Street near Fourth Avenue into 35 apartment units. You can’t tell much from the outside yet, but a lot is going on inside. Should be a winner.
Approval is near for twin midrise projects at Sixth Avenue and Palm Street. The Cushman family, with Joseph Wong architecture, is planning to build 145 residential units.
We’re not sure what will happen with the Mandarin Restaurant site since Graham Downes’ passing, but he had envisioned the site for an 80-room boutique hotel. Stay tuned.
Lastly, there is the Mission Hills Library. The city acquired the site on Washington and Front streets 10 years ago. Mosher Drew has prepared the plans and initial funds have been contributed by the Hervey family. It is planned as a one-story, 15,000-square-foot structure and could break ground as early as spring 2014. Library maven and aficionado Jim Dawe says that 10 years is a sufficient incubation period and that he looks forward to the project’s timely construction.
In nearby North Park, plans are under way for the 175-unit four-story Boulevard Apartments at El Cajon Boulevard and Florida Street, next to Kindred Hospital and a few blocks from the Lafayette Hotel.
A word about the Lafayette. It has now been completely renovated by developer Jay Wentz, and its 131 rooms are virtually all occupied every weekend. A booming success. R.A. Rauch and Associates, which manages the day-to-day operations of the hotel, says that its lively pool parties have become a major attraction as has its Imig’s Grill (named after the hotel’s developer). It’s worth a visit to tour the historical pictures of the hotel from its 1940s roots.
So that’s about it for 92103. SANDAG says that 83 percent of future growth in San Diego County will reside in multifamily housing. But that won’t happen if close-in urban neighborhoods such as 92103 are all built out with suburban-type garden apartments and condominiums.
Nevin is director of economic and market research for Xpera Group, the West Coast’s largest source of expert consultants in the construction-related industry.