Hillcrest high-rise touted as model, but critics worry about
Garrick- June 12, 2018
of a seven-story apartment building recently approved for
central Hillcrest are calling it a model for solving San Diegos
will include 111 units built on less than an acre, its
located near major roads such as state Route 163 and its
within walking distance of high-paying jobs and amenities
such as restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses.
however, call the project a sunblocker that is
too dense and will damage community character, worsen traffic
congestion and create a tunnel effect with other
Planning Commission, which gave the project unanimous final
approval two weeks ago, essentially decided the citys
need for more housing in ideal spots outweighs some drawbacks
of the projects design.
we have here is a trade-off, Commissioner Bill Hofman
Doug Austin agreed with Hofman that the positives outweigh
need for housing in this area is acute, he said. I
think its a perfect area -- its walkable and there
are a lot of amenities there.
have also touted that nine of the 111 units in the project
dubbed Hillcrest 111 by developer Greystar are
reserved for people with incomes classified as very low: less
than $39,000 for a two-person household.
low-income units and some other characteristics of the project,
such as its location near multiple bus routes, got the developer
a density bonus allowing construction of 35 percent more units
than zoning allows.
additional density, however, is the primary concern of a small
group of opponents who call themselves Uptown United and say
their goal is preserving community character in the neighborhoods
between Old Town and North Park.
do support affordable housing, but we dont think that
means throwing all design guidelines out the window,
Uptown United leader Tom Mullaney told the Planning Commission.
I think its a travesty.
says Hillcrest 111 could be so much better for the community
with just a few tweaks, such as an outdoor area for pets,
fewer housing units and wider sidewalks.
says the bulk and scale of the project is particularly problematic
where it borders Seventh Avenue, which is narrower than most
of the major streets in San Diego where high-rises have been
planning officials note that there are several other high-rise
buildings in Hillcrest, including twin 15-story residential
towers located approximately 1,000 feet south of where Hillcrest
111 will be built.
project is planned for a parking lot at 635 Robinson Avenue
thats now used by AT&T employees. The site is three
blocks west of SR-163 between University Avenue and Balboa
will be a 136,816-square-foot development with 4,800 square
feet of ground-floor commercial space and 190 underground
parking spaces. It will vary in height from six to seven stories,
with the tallest point of the project being 84 feet above
officials have begun encouraging such projects in recent years
with median home prices well over $500,000 and a typical two-bedroom
apartment renting for about $2,000 a month.
array of Hillcrest community leaders support the project.
Gehl of the Hillcrest Community Development Corporation told
the Planning Commission the project will provide crucial housing
near the communitys business district and its two hospitals,
which employ hundreds of highly paid workers.
Nicholls, executive director of the 1,200-member Hillcrest
Business Association, said merchants need more customers who
need housing in Hillcrest, he said. We do not
see the kind of robust development of thriving neighborhoods
like North Park, Little Italy or the East Village.
Uniteds opposition to the project is also based on city
officials not requiring the developer to conduct a comprehensive
analysis of its potential effects on traffic and other environmental
Delano, an Escondido attorney representing the group, said
by phone on Tuesday that no decision has been made about whether
to file a lawsuit that could delay the project.
Granowitz, another member of the Planning Commission, noted
that the developer must build new left-turn lanes at 7th and
Robinson in both directions.
think thats going to make a big difference,' said
Granowitz, who lives in North Park.
spokeswoman for the developer said ground will be broken on
the project in about two months, with completion expected
in summer 2020.