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.

Keeping Up with Courtyard by Marriott in the Gaslamp

A new Courtyard by Marriott is in the works near Sixth and Island, on the border of the East Village and the Gaslamp Quarter. The 12-story development is filling a small gap between Ballpark Self Storage and Hotel Solamar.

Courtyard by Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

A development of J Street Hospitality, the hotel will feature 90 guest rooms, a ground-floor restaurant and bar, and rooftop bar and lounge.

Plans for the rooftop bar include some sort of “eco-roof canopy,” a fire pit, and a water feature. It sounds similar to Altitude Sky Lounge at sister property San Diego Marriott Gaslamp, which offers spectacular views of the ballpark.

Courtyard by Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

We’d actually consider this part of the East Village, but J Street Hospitality wants you to know it’s close to all the action in the Gaslamp Quarter. Maybe they’ll eventually catch on and realize the East Village is where all the good stuff is headed, but we don’t blame them for trying to attract tourists looking to stay in the more well-known Gaslamp.

Courtyard by Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

This rendering conveniently removes the adjacent Hotel Solamar, but we’ll let that slide. We would have liked to see a taller tower, but this looks like it will be a pretty nice infill project overall.

Courtyard by Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

The hotel is being built on a tiny 50′ by 100′ lot. This is about as tall as it’s going to get.

Courtyard by Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

If all goes well, the new Courtyard by Marriott Gaslamp Quarter should open in July 2015.

Half Door Brewing Now Open, Juice Saves Moves to New Spot

During our pre-Super Bowl stroll through the East Village over the weekend, we gathered a few updates from around the neighborhood.

Half Door Brewing Company

Half Door Brewing Co. just opened at Ninth and Island, and people already seem to be digging the menu and dog-friendly wrap-around patio. We hear that their selection of in-house brews is still pretty limited, but they’re planning to release new beers soon.

They’re open until 2AM each night, but Happy Hour might be the best time to visit. Available from 4PM to 6PM Monday through Friday, Happy Hour specials include $5 house beers, $6 drafts, and $5 snacks like mac & cheese and ahi tuna tacos. Head over to SanDiegoVille.com for a write-up on the soft opening weekend, complete with the full menu and plenty of photos.

15th and Island

15th and Island continues to dominate the east end of the Downtown skyline. It’s hard to miss the tower rising over the East Village, as work progresses on the first of two residential high-rises.

Southpaw Social Club - Closed

With so many neighborhood openings, it’s a little strange to see the shuttered Southpaw Social Club. We’ve been watching for signs of life since nightlife group Good Time Design closed the bar and grill in October. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next for this prime location next to the ballpark.

Juice Saves

Consortium Holdings has been polishing off their latest spot at 631 9th Avenue, just north of Market Street. Juice Saves, which quietly opened last summer on G Street, has now relocated to this larger space. We previously told you about our good experience at the previous location, so we’re looking forward to checking out the new space.

The new joint is a collaboration with North Park’s Coffee & Tea Collective, which is close to opening. Eater San Diego explains that the shared space will also serve as the company headquarters for Consortium Holdings.

Sixth Avenue Suites Hotel Project Proposed for Cortez Hill

Civic San Diego is set to review plans for a new hotel project along Sixth Avenue in the Cortez Hill neighborhood of Downtown. If built, Sixth Avenue Suites would be located on the east side of Sixth Avenue between Beech and Ash.

Sixth Avenue Suites

The proposed 98-room, 9-story hotel would replace an office building at 1441 Sixth Avenue. We couldn’t find any details about the project applicant, San Diego Hope Partners LP.

Sixth Avenue Suites

The hotel would include 2,000 square feet of commercial space, and have a parking agreement with the adjacent garage.

Sixth Avenue Suites

The 7,500-square-foot lot is located immediately south of the Bay View Center office building, which contains a small college-preparatory middle school. Holiday Inn Express is also located on the same block.

Sixth Avenue Suites

Next door, Cocina 35 is moving into the space previously occupied by Indigo Cafe and Catering. An offshoot of La Loteria in Otay Mesa, Cocina 35 will serve old-school Mexican food.

Waterfront Redevelopment Continues with Lane Field North

We’ve spent time checking out the new Waterfront Park and first phase of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, but now our attention has turned to Lane Field North. Work is well underway on a 17-story, dual-branded hotel and a 2-acre public park.

Lane Field North

The long-planned project is located on the northeast section of Harbor Drive and Broadway. The site gets its name from the former Lane Field baseball park, which was the home of the minor league San Diego Padres from 1936 to 1957.

Since the 1960s, the site has been used as a surface parking lot for cruises and waterfront access. After years of delays, the Port of San Diego broke ground on the development last May.

Lane Field North

The two-part hotel will include a 253-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott, as well as a 147-room Residence Inn by Marriott. While those aren’t exactly the most exciting hotel brands, they’ll complement the more upscale 500-room InterContinental hotel planned for the future Lane Field South. The dual hotels will each have separate lobbies, but share an elevator bank.

Lane Field North

Plans for Lane Field North include approximately 27,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space on the first and second levels. Three levels of above-ground parking will accommodate about 400 cars. The Port recently approved an art installation titled “Ripples,” which will decorate those parking levels with blades of aluminum displaying various patterns from different angles.

Lane Field North Hotel and Park

The retail and restaurant spaces will come to life at night, as this rendering suggests.

Lane Field North

The project also includes a public park on the west side along Harbor Drive.

Lane Field North

The first phase of the park looks nearly complete. Notice the “pitcher’s mound” above—a nod to Lane Field’s history.

Lane Field North Hotel and Park

Here’s a view of the completed project, including an eventual build-out of the US Navy site to the north of the current construction, as well as the taller tower on Lane Field South.

Lane Field North

While previous plans depicted those wood loungers as a “seat wall” stretching across the entire site, that doesn’t seem to be the case any longer, with those small plants already in place.

Lane Field North

If all goes as planned, Lane Field North should be completed in 2016. Until then, we’ll be watching this key piece of the Downtown waterfront come together.

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