Former San Diego Central Courthouse Proposed New Building

By: Blake Sonuga | May 21, 2019, 2:00 pm PST

Courtesy of Carrier Johnson Culture and Holland Partner Group

Another high rise is in the works to change the downtown San Diego skyline. Over the years, the plot of land bounded by W. Broadway, Front, C and Union Street has seen multiple real estate re-development undertakings.

History of the land

The land was donated by downtown San Diego founder and real estate developer, Alonzo Horton which made way for the construction of downtown San Diego’s first Central County Courthouse in 1872.

Another building, designed by Comstock and Trotsche, was developed in 1892 on the same plot of land for $200,000 ($5.5M in May 2019’s money) and later demolished in 1959 to construct the current building. The current building, built in 1961 for $14M ($119.7M in May 2019’s money) was designed by Sam Hamill, Frank L. Hope, George Lykos and Richard G. Wheeler and housed the central courthouse until its move to their new location at 1100 W. Union Street in August 2017.

The new building

The County of San Diego selected Holland through its solicitation process for purchase of the County Courthouse property. The county requires the demolition of the now vacant building. Although the current building was built in 1961 and is over 45 years old, on its face it should be historically preserved. However, it has been determined that the building does not qualify for inclusion to local, state, and federal historic preservation registers.

Holland’s proposal calls for a new 37 story high-rise building with the first 8 floors as office spaces and the top 28 floors as residential units. Atop the tower, the 5,000 SF amenity space will include a pool and barbecue pit that will overlook the downtown, Coronado bay, Point Loma and beyond. Below ground, 4 levels of parking with a total of 574 shared office and residential parking spaces.

The high density mixed use project will have a shared amenity space on the 9th floor for office and residential users. 15,969 SF of gross retail space on the ground floor, 265,138 SF of gross office space over 8 floors and 436,120 SF of gross residential space over 28 floors all accounts for the almost 700,000 SF floor aspect ratio (FAR), excluding FAR exemptions/bonuses and parking.

For the residential units, we expect to have 54 studios, 210 one bed, 149 two bed and 18 three bed units. for a total of 431 residential units. Of the total residential units, the developer is complying with the affordable housing density bonus law to restrict 87 units (20%) for very low income residents.

HUD 2018 Income limits for San Diego County
Very Low-Income 50% area median income
Unit SizeAnnual IncomeGross Rent
Studio$34,100$853
One Bed$38,950$974
Two Bed$43,800$1095
Three Bed$48,650$1216

Economic impact

Total estimated cost to build will be around $233M with Holland paying $5,256,000 in development impact fees to fund new parks, fire stations and traffic circulation improvements in the downtown community plan. Approximately 742 construction jobs and 576 permanent jobs will be created as result of its construction.

Building specifications and figures

8 floor office space
28 floor residential
37 story high-rise tower
86 very low income units
308 residential parking spaces
431 total number residential units
1,900 SF pet open space on amenity deck
8,659 SF open outdoor space on amenity deck
265,138 SF of gross office space on total 8 floors
436,120 SF of gross residential space on total 28 floors

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