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Why Trammell Crow Residential Is Bullish On San Diego

Trammell Crow Residential’s Southern California division has five San Diego projects under construction or in the entitlement process, Tony Ditteaux tells us. Tony is among development and construction professionals presenting at Bisnow's Annual San Diego Construction & Development Forum on July 28.

Tony Ditteaux family on vacationl

We caught up with Tony (snapped here with wife Marisa Wayne—John Wayne's youngest daughter—and children Duke and Carmela on vacation) to learn more about those projects and building in San Diego.

The division recently completed Alexan Melrose, a 410-unit project in Vista, and is building The Alexan, a 313-unit, 19-story luxury apartment tower in Downtown’s East Village, and Alexan Millenia, a three-story, 309-unit, residential mixed-use project at the Millenia master planned community in Chula Vista. The team also is entitling a 284-unit, mixed-use project in the Fashion Valley area and recently entitled Alexan Little Italy, an 85-unit project that will break ground this fall.

“San Diego is an unbelievably beautiful city on the Bay with a lot of potential, and we’re tapping into that potential,” Tony says, pointing out the city has one of the strongest job markets in the state and nation. Over the last year, San Diego added 32,200 jobs, a 2.3% increase over the previous year, according to the California Employment Development Department. In May alone, San Diego added 4,800 jobs, causing the unemployment rate to drop to 4.2%—the lowest rate in nearly nine years.

Why Trammell Crow Residential Is Bullish On San Diego

Scheduled for completion in fall 2017, The Alexan consists of a four-story, wood-frame, podium structure with 104 units that connects to a concrete tower with 209 units, as well as a historic, 100-year-old church that’s being repositioned to accommodate an indoor-outdoor restaurant or Biergarten. Apartments will range from 459 SF studios to 2,200 SF two-bedroom penthouses. All units feature balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, gourmet kitchens, spa-like baths, walk-in closets and washer-dryers.

Designed by locally based Joseph Wong Design Associates, The Alexan features contemporary loft-style architecture that aesthetically reflects East Village’s industrial past, with wide expanses of glass. The development team also includes locally based Swinerton Builders, Nasland Engineering and landscape architects LandLab.

Pictured above is The Alexan tower, and below the project's streetfront.

The Alexan street level

The project provides recreation areas, gathering spaces and lounges throughout, with a rooftop pool and spa, an outdoor kitchen with BBQ grills, and dining and entertainment areas.

The Alexan site occupies most of a block bounded by J, K, 13th and 14th streets. The location is across the street from a new city park, one block from the Downtown Central Library, two blocks from Petco Park and in walking distance of the Gaslamp Quarter.

Tony notes the project was encumbered by a sun access overlay due to its location across from the park, which limited the height to 19 stories. The neighboring Pinnacle on the Park, which is adjacent to the park, was entitled for 46 stories, because it doesn’t cast a shadow over the park.

The Alexan Millenia's retail component creates a small town center for residents

He says South San Diego County has a strong, growing job market too, which is why Trammell Crow is developing in Chula Vista. South County is experiencing an increase in cross-border business activity and distribution, warehouse and light-manufacturing employers moving facilities closer to workers in the Chula Vista area.

Located about 15 minutes from Downtown San Diego, The Alexan Millenia (pictured) project in Chula Vista is part of the 210-acre multi-use, master planned development Millenia, where development is being managed by Meridian for the property owner, Stratford Land Co.

Breaking ground Aug. 1, this mixed-use will be completed in August 2018 and includes 309 garden-style, walk-up apartments in 17 three-story buildings. The project includes 7,200 SF of retail adjacent to the residential component, which creates a small town center for residents of both Alexan Millenia and Fairfield Residential’s neighboring 273-unit Pulse Millenia, which was completed last fall.

Alexan Little Italy, a 85-unit project in Little Italy, will break ground this fall.

Pictured is the Alexan Little Italy, which will break ground this fall.

Bisnow asked Tony about the ease of developing multifamily in San Diego, compared with other SoCal markets. He says developing multifamily in California is difficult in general, due to the onerous environmental review process, rising land and labor costs, “but worth the effort, if you do it well.”

Comparing the ease of developing in San Diego with Los Angeles, Tony tells us, “For a project in LA, you need 200 permits and only 10 permits in San Diego.”

He notes, however, the biggest issue threatening creation of more housing throughout California is “Level 3 Developer Fees to build new school facilities, which the California State Allocation Board in May authorized school districts to collect for the first time in California history. If the SD Unified School District adopts this fee, Tony estimates school fees will triple from $3/SF to $10/SF.

He says the Southern California Division of Trammell Crow Residential is actively pursuing more projects in San Diego, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Hear more from Tony and other professionals at our Annual San Diego Construction & Development Forum on July 28, beginning at 7:30am with breakfast and networking at the Westin San Diego, 400 West Broadway in Downtown.