By Thor Kamban Biberman
The former San Diego Daily Transcript building at 2131 Third Avenue in Bankers Hill is undergoing a major transformation and will be part of a much larger mixed-use project expected to begin this summer. As explained by Foley Development founder and CEO Tim Foley and company president Randy Goodson, the expanded plans will ultimately amount to a 150,000-square-foot complex known as the Foley Financial Center. Foley said while much of the project is self-financed, he took out a $27 million Northern Trust construction loan to help bankroll it.
In addition to the renovated 22,500-square-foot Transcript building, plans also call for a 23,000-square-foot, five-story office building along Ivy Street, where the paper's former press room was located prior to its demolition. The building will include a ground-floor restaurant with some apartments immediately above, and one level of parking.
In total, the residential portion of the project calls for 99 luxury apartments along either side of Third Avenue and up to Fourth Avenue, and a large parking structure for residents and office workers. The existing surface lots across from the renovated building on Third Avenue will be turned into apartments with accompanying parking.
"The apartments on the west side will be called Bay View," Foley related.
Goodson said he and Foley have worked closely with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to ensure that the property, which is near the glide path for Lindbergh Field, complies with applicable FAA height requirements and population limit per-acre restrictions.
Foley, who said he has received a great deal of interest from prospective tenants for the existing office building, said the two existing parking lots will provide parking before the large parking structure is ready. As for the newly renovated building -- work is expected to be completed in about six weeks -- Goodson said there are any number of possible types of tenants that would be suitable. "Technology and creative companies, law offices, and professional service due to the availability of ample parking at three spaces per 1,000 square feet," he said. "That isn't available in the market at other older buildings.
"This is a 100 percent full renovation with everything new in big open floor plans with lots of light and great views, not to mention the best location in Bankers Hill being just a few blocks from Little Italy... and we will have the most parking in the market.""We just started showing the building this week," Foley added. "There's a pretty big demand for a Bankers Hill address with good parking." Goodson said the renovation has been completely transformative, adding to the interest in the property. "We're currently only negotiating with larger tenants for full floors, the top two floors and the top three floors," he said.
Architects BP is the master plan architect, Shall Architects is the renovation architect, and Econ Construction is the general contractor for the renovation. Summa Architecture has supplied conceptual designs for the new portions of the development. Foley Development is managing the project. "We have not selected the (general contractor) for the new apartments or office building, for which plans are being submitted to the city this week," Goodson said.
The apartments will be built in phases. The first phase will include parking for the office buildings. Once that is completed, the surface lots will be converted into more apartments and parking.
"We'll have mechanical parking," Foley said. Foley said most of the bedrooms will average 1,075 square feet in two-bedroom, two-bath configurations. Foley said he is in the process of getting the last of his permits for the project in hand.
Foley wasn't the first to try and redevelop the building. SDPB Holdings LLC, with Michael Donovan as manager, paid $5.3 million to acquire the property in May 2016. While Donovan started the work on the Transcript building itself, he didn't have plans for the other parcels that it did not own. Foley has since acquired Donovan's interest and added adjacent parcels to facilitate his project. Not far away, Foley is also redeveloping a property along Fifth Avenue, between Elm and Fir streets, into a vertical mixed-use project with restaurants, apartments, and commercial space on the ground consisting of about 40,000 square feet.