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20-story apartment tower to be built across from Balboa Park

Posted at 4:43 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 20:44:24-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A twenty-story apartment tower can be built across the street from Balboa Park, the San Diego City Council decided Monday.

The council voted 8-0-1 with councilman Chris Cate absent to allow developer Greystar to redevelop part of St. Paul's Cathedral's property at Sixth and Olive.

Residents appealed the project because they said it was too tall for the area, and because it would cast too large a shadow over a popular part of the park. The building will include 204 apartments including 18 low-income units.

Those affordable units qualified Greystar for a series of density bonuses that residents said allowed the building to be much taller than the other residential towers near the park. The city says there aren't any area height restrictions.

Roy McMakin, who lives and works in Bankers Hill, said the city was giving developers too much leeway in its zeal to take a hit at the housing crisis.

"It gets down to who is watching the hen house on this?" he said. "Are we just allowing urban planning of the city to be handed over with that as the excuse to developers?" St. Paul's Cathedral will get new offices and parking.

Omar Rawi, Greystar's Senior Director of Development, said the project complies with all city regulations and is perfect for Bankers Hill. The neighborhood is connected to mass transit but has few new apartments.

"We are in the midst of a very severe affordable and market rate housing crisis," he said. "Climate change is a serious concern with respect to housing, so this project addresses all the things the city has asked for."

Residents fighting the project said it would tear down 16 older, market rate apartments that are affordable. That would exchange them for the 18 low-income units Greystar would add. Residents said that wasn't worth the density bonuses the developer got.

Rawi said groundbreaking could begin shortly and would take about two years.