Thoughtful Design And Flexibility Define Wood Partners’ Downtown Projects
Atlanta-based Wood Partners has entered the Downtown San Diego market with two residential projects. Wood Partners’ SoCal VP of development, Will Winkenhofer, who is among Downtown developers presenting at Bisnow’s San Diego's 3rd Annual Evolution of Downtown tomorrow, tells us both projects are designed to accommodate professionals who work in nontraditional environments, as well as traditional offices.
Will is snapped here with wife Sara, daughter Savannah and son Luke at Camp Nou, home of the FC Barcelona soccer team, while on vacation in Spain.
He says Wood Partners entered the Downtown San Diego market because his company is focused on infill locations in core, urban, gateway cities. “Downtown San Diego has undergone an extraordinary transformation in the last decade. We are big believers in the future of downtown and are pleased to be a part of shaping the city’s skyline," Will adds.
“San Diego’s strong demographics, which include one of the nation’s largest Millennial cohorts, supports rental demand for years to come,” he says. Will also notes apartment demand is high because the high cost of San Diego homes and condos has pushed the homebuying decision out several years.
He says the regulatory process has been made easier in Downtown SD and went very smoothly, for which he’s appreciative. “Downtown San Diego’s Planned Development Ordinance supports dense development within the context of smart growth and this, in turn, provides the regulatory certainty our firm needs to invest in sizable downtown projects,” Will adds.
One reason developers find Downtown SD a desirable place to develop is because Civic San Diego, the city's planning agency, has taken the entire Downtown market through the environmental review process, cutting the entitlement process to six months or less.
The Rey, which is Wood Partners’ first Downtown SD project, will offer a high-rise living experience with efficient floor plans and first-class amenities. “While our average unit sizes are smaller, our amenities have been well thought-out, and we are confident they will be a point of differentiation,” Will tells us.
For example, the lobby doubles as a flexible co-working and social gathering space. Designed to support entrepreneurs and other home-based professionals by day, the space can be modified to host music, art and other community events in the evening.
This is a somewhat unique feature integrated into many of Wood Partners’ properties, he says. “We try not to over-program common spaces, so they can be activated for different uses." Will says the lobby bar has a working counter that functions like a Starbucks work center during the day, but can be used to host social events during the evening.
Designed by the SD office of CCBG Architects, the 801 B St project, which is being developed in two phases, will ultimately include 955 residential units. The Rey is the first phase, which Swinerton Builders will complete by year end, and includes 478 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, ranging from 450 SF to 1,100 SF. This project will provide 360-degree views from Balboa Park to the north, the San Diego Bay and Coronado Bridge to the west, and city lights looking south.
“This was a unique project for us,” Will tells us. “We came in mid-stage after the project was entitled. We were somewhat limited in our ability to change the design of the building; however, we were able to make programming changes that we feel will enhance the overall resident experience.” This included rearranging amenities to create an indoor-meets-outdoor experience on the rooftop. “Given that our project was designed with a limited amount of indoor amenity space, we felt it was a natural decision to rethink our roof plan.
“In a climate such as San Diego’s, outdoor space should be given equal consideration as indoor space. With this in mind, we are investing heavily in the rooftop experience, adding gathering spaces on the rooftop pool and offering a unique outdoor cooking experience,” he adds, noting there will barbecue stations with a kitchen area, beverage coolers and long picnic tables.
“To satisfy our requirement to provide 'green roof' space, we came up with a clever solution by adding multiple overhang structures that support our green roof, but double as shaded areas for our residents to socialize or relax by themselves both day and night,” Will says.
The co-working space was the result of reprogramming, but communal spaces also were created to provide residents an opportunity to work outdoors in small or large groups, as well as in solitary spaces that provide privacy, he notes. “We’ll have an outdoor paseo with ample landscaping shade and a public plaza with seating and water features to provide a tranquil setting for both our residents and the public at large."
Wood Partners converted two apartment units into a two-level fitness facility, which Will says will be open 24-7 and includes cardio and weight equipment and space for group training, yoga, spinning and video-on-demand training.
“We put a lot of thought into our technology offerings,” Will says. The Rey will offer free WiFi and boosted cell service to ensure residents who work from home are connected and can communicate freely from anywhere in the building. Additionally, the Rey will offer parcel lockers for e-commerce deliveries.
The podium-style Little Italy project, which has five levels of residential units above three levels of parking, provides water views in a very walkable environment with the added benefit of being near the airport. Will believes one of the project’s greatest offerings will be its views. “We are fortunate that we are across the street from an expansive waterfront park, so our residents will enjoy stunning views of the bay for a long time.”
This project, still unnamed, will have larger units, which Will says plays to mid-level professionals, empty nesters and second-home internationals, which the project will target.
Wood Partners' two projects in Downtown SD couldn’t be more different in terms of their size and design, he says. “At Cortez Hill, The Rey is very much a Millennial play, offering an affordable high-rise experience in a very urban context. Conversely, our Little Italy project is more of a boutique offering with a design befitting the luxury market of Little Italy.
“While both projects are uniquely designed for their respective neighborhoods, each one is designed with flexibility in mind, so if we note more residents working from home, they can enjoy the opportunity to work in an accommodating and communal environment.”
Other Little Italy residential projects underway include Dallas-based Trammell Crow's five-story, 85-unit Alexan Little Italy, and AV8, a six-story, 129-unit mixed-use by a JV of LA-based Cityview and locally based developer CityMark.
Hear more from Will and other Downtown developers at Bisnow’s San Diego's 3rd Annual Evolution of Downtown, beginning at 7:30am tomorrow with breakfast and networking at the Westin San Diego, 400 W Broadway in Downtown. Sign up here!