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Bankers Hill High-Rise Apartment Building Wins Council Approval

A rendering shows a proposed mixed-use apartment building next to St. Paul's ...

Credit: JWDA

Above: A rendering shows a proposed mixed-use apartment building next to St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Bankers Hill.

A proposed 20-story apartment building in Bankers Hill won unanimous approval from the San Diego City Council on Monday, with council members praising the building's design and its inclusion of affordable homes for low-income households.

The project is a partnership between St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral and developer Greystar. A group of nearby residents have been organizing opposition to the project, saying its 223-foot height would cast an encroaching shadow on Balboa Park across the street.

"It's going to be high up, so you're going to get a shadow there pretty early in the afternoon and you're taking some prime park spaces," said Leo Wilson, chair of the volunteer neighborhood planning group, Uptown Planners. Wilson also said the project would be mostly luxury housing and should include more units for low- and moderate-income renters.

But supporters of the project told the council its 204 apartments located near the downtown job center and multiple frequent bus routes would help relieve the region's housing shortage and encourage more sustainable transportation habits.

RELATED: St. Paul’s Cathedral Puts Its Faith In A High Rise

"What we do not face is a crisis of shade," said Patrick Santana, a resident of nearby Hillcrest. "To address the real crises, Greystar's project wisely used every tool in the toolbox that our city and state provided to address our housing and environmental crises."

Councilman Chris Ward, whose district includes Bankers Hill, said the developer had found a design that minimized shadow impacts on the park. He also praised the decision to reserve 18 of the apartments for households with "very low income" at affordable rents.

"That's definitely been a line in the sand for me, to make sure that we can get as much on-site inclusionary affordable housing as possible," he said. "The shadowing impact is a real one. But is that enough to say 'no' to something at the alternative of having no affordable on-site?"

Project spokeswoman Rachel Laing said some opponents have threatened to sue the developer to block the project's construction. Absent any delays from such a lawsuit, she said the developer hoped to break ground by late summer.

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously to approve a 20-story apartment building in Bankers Hill next to St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, despite neighborhood opposition over the building's height.

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Photo of Andrew Bowen

Andrew Bowen
Metro Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover local government — a broad beat that includes housing, homelessness and infrastructure. I'm especially interested in the intersections of land use, transportation and climate change.

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