Three-Story Condos Coming to Voltaire

by on February 10, 2022 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach

Corner of Voltaire and San Clemente. Photo by Geoff Page

17 Condos and 1 Commercial Space to Be Built – Project Originally Called for 21 Apartments and 5 Commercial

By Geoff Page

A new project is coming to Voltaire Street and it isn’t going to make affordable housing advocates happy. The old House of Hui Chinese restaurant on the south side of Voltaire, west of San Clemente Street, has been demolished. Some folks may know it as where Coconut Pete’s used to be.

The adjacent lot to the west, where a beautiful old Crafstman style home once stood, is part of the project. This lot has been empty for many years and was once a community garden.

The new project will be 17 condominiums and one commercial space. It is called mixed-use and there must be some benefit to that designation, hence the token one commercial space. Here is the description on the permit application:

“PENINSULA- (Process 3) Site Development Permit and Map Waiver for the construction of 2 three story 38,589 SF mixed use buildings on one lot, consisted of 17 residential condominium units and one commercial space. The 0.6-acre site is in the CC-3-5 Zone and in the Community Plan Implementation Zone-B of the Peninsula Community Plan Area. Council District 2.”

The “one lot” language took some research to figure out because it appears this is three lots and multiple addresses. A SANDAG Parcel Lookup Tool showed the entire area as one lot with 4103 as the only address.  It could be there was some parcel consolidation at one time. A clue may be in the Map Waiver the developer was granted. It states:

“Map Waiver to allow for the construction of a new condominium project on a single parcel that was previously mapped and monumented in a manner satisfactory to the City Engineer in accordance with Subdivision Map Act Section 66428(b). Approved by HO on 12/2/2020 with Reso HO-7362.”

Prior to demolition and construction.

The permit application showed there would be eight townhomes and one commercial space in “Building A” and nine townhomes in “Building B.” It was not clear why these were referred to as townhomes and also as condominiums.

There is some history to this piece of land going back to 2006 when a developer brought his project for this location to the Peninsula Community Planning Board. The developer was Jim Lester.

The reason affordable housing folks might be upset is because the original project was for 21 apartments and five retail spaces, not condos. However, they probably would have been converted to condos during construction with a Map Waiver.

If a project starts as apartments, it can avoid the local planning board review step. What has happened routinely over the years is, once the permits are in place and construction has begun, the developer would apply for a Map Waiver to convert from apartments to condos and these were always granted. This resulted in some crappy projects around Point Loma.

Lester’s project was denied by the PCPB according to the meeting minutes “due to Board’s concern that additional development in highly impacted traffic with existing streets already below acceptable Level of Service(LOS) and further development not recommended until a formal, independent, objective traffic impact study is performed and mitigation measures taken.”

Upper Voltaire across from new construction.

The project was approved by the city despite what the PCPB had to say. No traffic study was ever performed so no mitigation measures have taken place. Part of the concern was another project across the street was also being developed at that time, Upper Voltaire on the north side of Voltaire west of Nimitz.

The project stalled in 2008, probably because the economy went in the dumper, lots of projects suffered the same fate in those days.  Lester passed away in 2018 and had been in poor health for some time before that. Even though the economy improved, nothing happened.

The new owner listed on the permit application is Desert Coast Enterprises. A search for that name came up with Desert Coast Enterprises, Inc. and Desert Coast Enterprises,LLC, both of which are suspended or canceled. The owner’s address is a residence in Oceanside. The project developer is CityMark Communities LLC.

Here’s one rendering of the project:

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Vern February 10, 2022 at 12:23 pm
Vern February 10, 2022 at 12:58 pm
Geoff Page February 10, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Well done, Vern, at least there were some drawings. I emailed the developer asking for renderings and they responded quickly but said the color renderings were not done yet. So I asked if they had any black and white sketches but they have not responded as yet.


Vern February 10, 2022 at 4:16 pm

“17 on Voltaire”
YIMBY townhomes = not-so-affordable living
(assuming $756/sf, 1300 – 1600 sf units)


marc johnson February 12, 2022 at 4:30 pm

It’s affordable if your a brain surgeon.


David Gladysz April 18, 2022 at 10:28 am

Does anyone know estimated pricing for these units. That size with a garage, I would figure about $1.2 million if I was guessing. Just up the street from there, Across the street from Sea Colony condos is a new apartment complex which was supposed to have retail space on the first floor. But now because there were no real interest in those retail spaces, they are converting them to loft style studios and will be renting them out for over $3000 a month.


Geoff Page April 18, 2022 at 11:55 am

The project directly across the street from this new one also has commercial space it has never filled. You can be sure they are also applying to convert those spaces.


Geoff Page February 17, 2022 at 7:48 pm

Some additional information on this project.

It did not come before the Peninsula Community Planning Board, as would be expected, but the applicant was not to blame, COVID was. The planning board was dark when this project would have been seen and the city allowed projects to move forward and skip this step under the circumstances.

The one commercial space allowed the project to be called mixed-use, which comes from the zoning being commercial in this area. A residential use is not allowed on a commercial zoned property unless it has some commercial use incorporated.

So, what this seems to mean is this was a way to build a residential development in a commercial zone. Everyone knows that the mixed-use model has failed. The project across the street with its empty commercial spaces is witness to that, and the project down by Nimitz is already converting the retail space to residential. Basically, the “commercial” zone is being filled up with residential construction instead of commercial development.


lyle February 18, 2022 at 9:28 am

“Basically, the “commercial” zone is being filled up with residential construction instead of commercial development.” While at the same time single-family residence zones are being encroached by small commercial hotel-type operations. It appears that zoning in general is thrown out the window, along with all the master and community plans that depend on it.

I believe when people are allowed to flout the law in one instance, they will feel emboldened to flout it in general.

OBW I have no pesonal problem with living units in commercial areas, just with flouting or flaunting the law. One of my relatives owned a cafe/bar where the second story was their home and it worked out well for them. It was really cool because when I stayed with them I could just order what I wanted off the menu and someone would bring it up. Thus avoiding liver and/or brussels sprouts!


kh February 21, 2022 at 9:13 am

Empty commercial space doesn’t mean mixed use zoning has failed, it just means they are overpricing the commercial spaces. It’s stunning they’d rather it sit empty for years than adjust the price to match the market.

Perhaps residential property is more profitable than commercial in some locations. But it’s as irrelevant as how much income I’d make turning a rental home into a bar (or a hotel). I’ve heard the same argument to justify vacation rentals. “I can’t find long term renters for this place!” Horse shit. Profitability should not determine zoning designations. If you build something that isn’t viable for the use it’s zoned for, you’re an idiot, not a victim.


Geoff Page February 21, 2022 at 10:19 am

There is a lot of opinion out there about the failure of the mixed-use concept. Here’s one


Debbie February 21, 2022 at 9:34 am

kh probably right on being overpriced. Another issue is a lack of convenient accessible parking for customers who may consider these commercial spaces. If your customers cannot easily park then a business cannot survive or thrive. My guess is if these developers had their wish they would have eliminated the commercial but only included it to get the project approved and built before the costs of construction increase and so they can move on to their next endeavor.


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