Category Archives: Little Italy

High-Rise Proposed for 520 W. Ash in Little Italy

A 24-story mixed-use tower has been proposed for the northwest corner of Columbia and Ash in Little Italy. Civic San Diego received the proposal earlier this month from Lennar Multifamily Communities.

The building would include five levels of underground parking, 4,943 square feet of commercial space at ground level, three additional levels of above-ground parking, and 19 levels of residential units. A rooftop common area would feature a pool and outdoor space for residents.

520 W. Ash, Little Italy

The project site is located at 520 W. Ash Street, where a three-story office building currently stands. The 266-foot-tall development would also replace the Crossfit Invictus building located at 1446 Columbia Street.

520 W. Ash, Little Italy

Exterior elevations show a facade consisting of glass, exposed concrete, and painted metal panels. The building design comes from Carrier Johnson + Culture, whose other Downtown projects include the new Sempra Energy Headquarters and the upcoming Ballpark Village.

520 W. Ash, Little Italy

This is probably one of the most walkable locations in all of Downtown—just a few steps away from the heart of Little Italy, and a short walk to the Marina and Gaslamp Districts.

520 W. Ash, Little Italy

Notice the brightly-lit lantern feature going up the side of the tower, as well as the pop-out spa hanging over the edge of the common area on the roof.

520 W. Ash, Little Italy

The project timeline is currently unknown, but we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the progress.

Roma Market Plans Little Italy Expansion

A new Italian specialty market is in the works for Little Italy. Pasadena-based Roma Market recently announced plans to take over the first-floor corner of an office building at Columbia and West Beech.

Roma Market, Little Italy

The family behind Roma Market opened the original location in Alhambra in the 1950s before later relocating the store to Pasadena.

Just last month, Roma Market kicked off its San Diego expansion with the grand opening of a new Escondido store. The neighborhood market offers wines and pastas imported from Italy, as well as homemade breads, sauces, and meatballs.

Roma Market, Little Italy

A cafe at the Escondido location serves hot and cold sandwiches, as well as salads and pizzas made with house-made dough. You can expect a similar setup at the Little Italy location.

Roma Market, Little Italy

Eater San Diego reported last month that the Little Italy market isn’t likely to open until next year, but that construction should begin soon. They plan to open up the glass and add a large outdoor patio.

Hanson's Market, Little Italy

Just two blocks west on Kettner Blvd, we had to check in on the long-delayed Hanson’s Market. If you’ve wondered what’s taking so long on the natural and organic grocery store, you’re not alone. After several questions from curious folks on Facebook, Hanson’s replied last month to say that permits are taking longer than expected. No kidding.

Hanson's Market, Little Italy

Little has changed inside the Hanson’s Market space, which is located on the first floor of the new Ariel Suites tower at Kettner and West Beech.

Some residents have questioned the “available” signs posted out front, which we also think is a little odd with the “coming soon” banner hanging above.

Hanson's Market, Little Italy

All these months later, we’re still not sure what’s going on with Hanson’s.

Update: On Twitter, @trisaratops23 responded to let us know that Hanson’s Market is no longer coming to the neighborhood:

Piazza Famiglia Bringing Big Changes to Little Italy

It’s been three months since a small stretch of Date Street closed to traffic in Little Italy. A transformation is underway, as work continues on Piazza Famiglia and two mixed-use buildings.

When the new pedestrian plaza opens at the end of 2016, it’s expected to become a new centerpiece of the neighborhood.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

Inspired by the traditional piazzas of Italy, the pedestrian corridor will be used for markets, performances, and special events. Public seating areas and a large fountain will be added, along with designated spaces for market vendors and stage areas.

The project is a collaboration between the Little Italy Association and developer H.G. Fenton.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

Located on Date Street between India and Columbia, the piazza took over the space occupied on Saturday mornings by the Little Italy Mercato. The popular farmer’s market—our favorite in town—moved one block south to Cedar Street to allow for construction. The market will return to its home on Date Street once the new plaza opens.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

Plans include a five-story building on the south side of the plaza and a seven-story building on the north side. Together, they’ll include 125 rental apartments and 17,820 square feet of retail space.

The proposed residential units are fairly small, ranging from 373-square-foot studios to 1,136-square-foot two-bedroom apartments.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

We aren’t huge fans of the building designs shown in the renderings, but maybe they’ll surprise us.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

In addition to resident parking, plans include 50 public parking spaces in an underground structure. The garage will be accessible from Columbia Street.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

The west facade of the old San Diego Reader building still stands, as it will be incorporated into the north building.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

The plan is to restore the facade’s original transom windows, which are currently covered in stucco. Those are additional horizontal windows that used to be above the ones you see boarded up. They’ll be rehabilitated to allow more light into the new building.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

The Little Italy Association plans to host a number of other events throughout the year in the new Piazza Famiglia, such as the Little Italy FESTA! and ArtWalk.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

Similar in concept, Piazza Basilone was dedicated in 2003 just one block north. Much smaller than the planned Piazza Famiglia, it’s always a popular spot to relax and catch some sun.

The annual Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village relocated to this plaza in 2014, but will return to its home on Date Street once the new piazza is complete.

Piazza Famiglia, Little Italy

Princess Pub will be the only remaining building on the block, seen above at bottom right. So, no worries—you’ll still be able to get your drink on while Piazza Famiglia is under construction.

Work Begins on Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in Little Italy

As construction finishes up at the new Legacy Apartments in Little Italy, work is just starting to begin on the second San Diego location for Bird Rock Coffee Roasters on the ground floor of the building.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

Last we heard, the acclaimed La Jolla-based coffee bar was scheduled to open by mid-September, but we think Little Italy residents will have to wait a bit longer than that before the new shop is ready.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

We’ve been watching this space collect dust for a few months and are happy to report that work has finally begun inside the future coffee bar.

Legacy Apartments

Crews recently completed the landscaping and removed the construction fences surrounding the mixed-use Legacy Apartments building. The project includes 31 residential units and a few spaces for retail.

Legacy Apartments

We’ve heard that nearby Bottlecraft will be moving into one of these spaces along the India Street side of the building, which should be a nice upgrade for one of our favorite beer spots.

Legacy Apartments

Legacy Apartments is just one of several new developments on the north end of Little Italy. As the boom of food and drink development continues in this direction, we should also soon learn more about the mixed-use, six-story Kettner Lofts project planned one block south along Kettner Blvd.

Lofts Planned for Vacant North Park Site

The stretch of University Avenue between Florida and Texas has long been a dead zone compared to the thriving neighborhood centers of Hillcrest and North Park. That could soon change, as San Diego architect Jeff Svitak is planning a residential loft project for a vacant site at Louisiana and University.

Jeff Svitak Project in North Park

In June, San Diego Reader reported the sale of the lot to Svitak under the purchasing name Morley, LLC. Although details are still unknown, we came across a rendering on Svitak’s Instagram that just might represent an early design. “Morley starting to come to life,” he writes. The multi-level complex includes several small courtyards and open spaces between units.

Jeff Svitak Project in North Park

The vacant lot is located just east of Albertsons, across from Colima’s Mexican Food. There’s a single-family home to the east and an apartment building to the south.

Jeff Svitak's Columbia in Little Italy

That early rendering for the vacant North Park lot shares some similarities with Jeff Svitak’s Columbia Lofts, which is expected to be completed in Little Italy next month. Located on Columbia Street between Fir and Grape, the 18-unit complex is inspired by the narrow streets of Venice.

Jeff Svitak's Columbia in Little Italy

Svitak’s design for Columbia incorporates several shared courtyards and green corridors that serve as buffers between units. The concept minimizes the number of shared walls, using those shared spaces and private patios to increase the amount of light and ventilation.

Based on the preliminary design for his North Park project, expect this same design style to be repeated. Check out Svitak’s Facebook page for more on the nearly-completed Columbia Lofts, as well as the project website for detailed floorplans.

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