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New Downtown Hotels Include Dorm-Style Beds For Budget-Minded Travelers

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The Robert Green Co is making its mark on Downtown San Diego with two major hospitality projects.

Robert Green, right, with David McCullough, principal at David McCullough Landscape Architecture, at San Diego Hotel Development Takeoff last summer.

This month, the company is opening a 317-key, four-star, full-service Pendry Hotel, Montage Hotel & Resorts’ luxury boutique brand, in Downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. President and CEO Robert Green Jr. (pictured right with landscape architect David McCullough) said the Pendry is a lifestyle brand focused on food, nightlife and the arts, appealing especially to Millennials and Gen-Xers. The hotel is close to Petco Ballpark and a short walk to the San Diego Bay and the city’s Convention Center.

“We have six food and beverage outlets, a rooftop pool, state-of-the-art spa and fitness facility, and 30k SF of meeting space,” he said. Food and beverage amenities include the Lion Fish, a fine dining seafood restaurant; The Provisional, a restaurant and retail company; the 5th & Rose lobby bar at 5th and J Street; Nasons, a beer hall that serves a variety of local craft beers; The Oxford Social Club, a nightclub; and The Pendry Pool House, a bar and restaurant on the rooftop pool level. The hotel also has 30k SF of meeting space and a 6,200 SF spa/fitness facility.

The Pendry Hotel San Diego is in the Gaslamp Quarter and is bordered by 5th and 6th avenues and J Street.

Green’s company is also working on a much larger project on San Diego Bay at Fifth Avenue Landing. The project will include an 850-room four-star hotel adjacent to the convention center. It will provide 64k SF of indoor meeting space and 65,185 SF of outdoor plazas to host hotel functions and available for public use. The project will activate a less-traveled portion of the bayfront with a promenade that features open-air cafés and shops for locals and visitors alike.

What stands out about the project is its inclusion of a separate low-cost, shared-lodging hotel. The development of low-cost accommodations on the coast is a major priority of the California Coastal Commission, and the Fifth Avenue Landing project will be the only such hotel in all of Downtown San Diego.

This photo shows the proximity of Fifth of the Fifth Avenue Landing convention center hotel to the San Diego Convention Center.

The rendering of the Fifth Avenue Landing convention center hotel above shows its proximity to the San Diego Convention Center.

Green said the project only needs about 170 shared-lodging beds, but could accommodate up to 565 dorm-style beds for other hotel developers. If the Coastal Commission and/or Port requires developers to include low-cost lodging in projects, they could pay an in-lieu fee to support construction of shared-lodging beds at his project.

The project will also expand the Marina, adding 20 to 25 boat slips or a floating dock with a recreational island and a public boat dock, Green said. On the site once slated for the expansion of the convention center, the project will feature a bridge from the hotel tower to the viewing platforms at the convention center.

Green said the city’s plan for a contiguous expansion of the convention center on the waterfront fell apart when local attorney Cory Briggs won a lawsuit in 2015 challenging the project’s financing. A separate environmental lawsuit, also filed by Briggs, is pending.

With the financing in doubt, the San Diego Convention Center Corp, which operates the facility, defaulted on its agreement to acquire the leasehold for the property, which is on state tidelands managed by the Port of San Diego.

A rendering of the Fifth Avenue Landing with marina expansion The convention center hotel is at right and low-cost, shared lodging hotel at left.

This rendering of Fifth Avenue Landing shows the marina expansion, convention center hotel, right, and low-cost shared-lodging hotel, left.

When the convention center financing was deemed illegal, Green teamed up with the leaseholders, Art Engel of Flagship Cruises and Ray Carpenter of RE Staite Construction, and presented the proposal for Fifth Avenue Landing Hotel Project to the Port of San Diego’s board of commissioners. “We were the first to submit a proposal for the site, and it was well-received by the board," he said, adding the commissioners instructed staff to begin the entitlement process, which would include a 66-year extension to the lease of the property.

Green, who supported the Chargers’ joint stadium-convention center proposal, said some hoteliers have continued to pin their hopes on a contiguous expansion. “What’s pretty telling is that people — city leadership and members of the hospitality industry — ignored the fact that there was no longer the ability to build a contiguous expansion of the convention center and continued talking like the city could expand the convention center on the Fifth Avenue Landing property, but that right was given up in 2015,” he said.

“I wonder if the public would have voted down the convadium project if they had known that there was no longer the possibility for a contiguous convention center expansion," he said.

Hear more from Robert and other Downtown San Diego experts at Bisnow’s The Urbanization & Future of Downtown event on Jan. 17 at The Westin San Diego.