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Local residents become homeowners at Harbor View Condominiums

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The cost of housing in San Diego makes homeownership an unattainable goal for many residents, but a new condominium project in National City may offer an opportunity for people who thought they were priced out of the San Diego market.

According to a 2006 report on housing affordability in the region by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median price of all new and resale single-family homes and condominiums is $520,000. New detached single-family homes average out in the $800,000 range, a 350 percent increase since 1996.

For National City residents, whose median income tops out at $41,180, purchasing a home can be especially challenging.

Harbor View Condominiums, a 75-unit mixed-use condominium project in National City, offers new homes starting at $229,000 and already has attracted several buyers from the area.

"Many of the buyers at Harbor View are current National City residents," said Rafael Mendez, sales agent at Harbor View. "Most of them have been long-term renters who weren't able to afford to buy in National City, and now they can."

The reasonable prices, Mendez said, make this possible. One-bedroom, one-bath homes at Harbor View are priced from $229,000. Two-bedroom, two-bath homes are priced from $369,000 and three-bedroom, two-bath homes are priced from $439,000.

Workers pour the foundation and underground garage for Harbor View Condominiums.

The 15 units in phase one at Harbor View, which were released in October, are nearly sold out.

"The interest in Harbor View Condominiums is growing every day," Mendez said. "We have already sold 14 of the 15 units that were released, and we anticipate the second phase of units, which we are scheduled to release in March, to also sell quickly."

Located at 404 E. Eighth St., just minutes from downtown, Harbor View Condominiums is also attracting attention from people who work in downtown but don't want to pay the high downtown housing prices and are intrigued by the renaissance under way in National City.

Harbor View Condominiums is the first residential project to break ground under the city's new Downtown Specific Plan, which was approved in February 2005, and calls for more than $2 billion dollars in development.

"Harbor View Condominiums represents an important milestone in the redevelopment of National City," said Jennifer Whitelaw, spokeswoman for Gulf Unlimited Corp., the developer of Harbor View Condominiums. "As the first project to break ground under the Downtown Specific Plan, Harbor View Condominiums demonstrates to the citizens that the promise of a revitalized National City is becoming a reality."

Harbor View is only one part of the plan to re-energize National City. Home to more than 63,000 residents, the city recently completed new state-of-the-art public facilities including a city hall, fire station headquarters, police station and library.

The National City Downtown Specific Plan provides for more than 5.8 million square feet of residential development and more than 385,000 square feet of commercial development.

With National City's ongoing renaissance, the area is experiencing huge growth in jobs, housing and business activity, providing an economic stimulus for the entire region.

In the last three years, National City has invested more than $20 million in infrastructure improvements.

"The Downtown Specific Plan really is an important start to the vision of National City," said Brad Raulston, executive director of National City's Community Development Corp. "It shows the city's commitment to continue to bring life to National City."

Located on Eighth Street, one of the two main downtown thoroughfares identified in the Downtown Specific Plan, Harbor View helps contribute to the city's vision of creating a walkable community as envisioned under the plan, Whitelaw said.

"Harbor View is located within walking distance to many community amenities and services, such as the National City Library, Martin Luther King Community Center, Kimball Park, Big Ben's Market and Niederfrank's Ice Cream," she said. "It is a prime example of the city's urban redevelopment."

Harbor View also consists of 13,000 square feet of commercial condominiums, divided between seven units on East Eighth Street and D Avenue.

"With the ground-floor retail and attractive landscaping, Harbor View will help create a pleasant and interesting pedestrian experience," Whitelaw said.

Homes at Harbor View range from approximately 700 square feet to 1,360 square feet, and feature natural oak cabinetry, granite countertops, General Electric appliances, nine-foot vaulted ceilings and a private patio/balcony.

Construction at Harbor View, which is slated for completion in fall 2007, is moving along quickly. The concrete pour already is completed for the underground garage, the foundation and the first two floors.

Kovach is a senior account manager with Whitelaw Marketing Inc.

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