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42-stories high

Another mixed-use residential/hotel highrise proposed for downtown San Diego

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The $300 million, 42-story mixed-use project proposed for a block in downtown San Diego's East Village will not be San Diego's tallest building, now or in the future.

The proposed 42 stories is roughly the same height as the Manchester Grand Hyatt near the San Diego Convention Center, and will be about five floors short of the 47-story mixed-use residential/hotel tower proposed for Columbia and A streets on the south edge of Little Italy announced earlier this month.

If ground could be broken for that building within the next 18 months, the project could then be completed by 2011.

The East Village project, on the block bounded Market, Island, Seventh and Eighth streets, is being planned by joint venture of The Related Cos. of New York City and San Diego-based for-profit CityLink Investment Corp.

Designed by the San Diego-based Carrier Johnson architectural firm, the project will include market-rate and affordable housing components, a hotel, ground-floor retail space, and a 650-car public parking garage to be separately owned by the Centre City Development Corp. and the city's Redevelopment Agency.

As explained by William A. Witte, president of Related California, plans call for 418 residential units with 300 rentals and 118 for-sale condos.

The developers will set aside about 20 percent of the units for lower income renters and buyers.

The 220-room boutique style hotel would carry a 4- to 4 1/2-star rating, and provide 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of retail space.

Other features of the Market Street project include street-front commercial and cultural space, and a police storefront.

Witte said the hotel would be built to 220 rooms regardless of what happens to the Clairemont single-room occupancy hotel on the same block. If that SRO property hotel must be preserved due to historic considerations, Witte said he could still work it into the project.

The Redevelopment Agency, CCDC, Related and CityLink will enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement to finalize the land purchase in the coming weeks.

Three levels of private underground parking will serve residents and tenants, and six levels of above ground public parking will be enveloped and masked by the residences.

The tower will then be landscaped all the way to the roof.

"This 'sky palace' features roof decks and garden terraces that cascade down the building, allowing people to walk outdoors on all levels of the tower," said Frank Wolden, Carrier Johnson design principal. "The concept of a vertical city energized by 'skylife' is also captured by a series of levels visually identified by stairs, balconies and terraces, all reflected in the striking use of glass, which gives the tower a luminous quality at all times of day."

Witte said he especially likes where the block is located.

"We love the location because of its proximity to Petco Park, the Gaslamp and to some degree, the Convention Center," Witte said. "The creation of this new mixed-use urban development is an exciting opportunity for Related and promises to be a vibrant, unique, environmentally-sensitive new addition to the East Village District. We look forward to developing a new enduring urban destination in an activated pedestrian-friendly environment."

Nancy Graham, CCDC president, shares Witte and Wolden's exuberance.

"This project represents an exciting opportunity to revitalize an important city block in the heart of downtown ..." Graham said.

In a published statement about the development, William Jones, CityLink president, said the project would also include a cultural venue to celebrate African-American history in San Diego, but didn't offer further details.

Jones could not be reached by press time.

Jones' CityLink earned national acclaim as the master developer of the City Heights Urban Village, an eight-block redevelopment project where multiple public and private uses coexist in a village setting.

Last year, CityLink completed the Village at Morena Vista, a mixed-use, mixed-income transit oriented development linking West Mission Valley, the Morena District and the Linda Vista community.

Related, which is privately held, has offices and major developments in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston and boasts a team of more than 2,000 professionals.

To date, Related has real estate assets worth over $15 billion with another $9 billion currently in development.

While Related has been very active in Los Angeles, Witte said most of the firm's work in San Diego has been in the rehabilitation of existing projects. It has renovated a total of more than 900 units in San Ysidro and National City alone.

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