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SAN DIEGO-A joint venture headed by one of the nation’s largest apartment developers has broken ground on a five-story, 149-unit luxury apartment and retail project in the city’s Marina District.

Restoring a perennial eyesore to productive use, Marina Place will occupy a city block at 101 Market St. near San Diego Bay, offering loft apartments and townhomes. The project, scheduled for completion in spring 2002, also will include 10,822 sf of ground-level retail and a subterranean parking garage.

The venture has already signed its first retail lease–Oscar’s Restaurant, a San Diego-based family-style restaurant that will anchor the retail component with 6,029 sf at the corner of First Avenue and Market Street. “With the downtown apartment rental vacancy factor near zero, demand is high for residential properties in the Marina District,” says Ronnie Morgan,San Diego-based principal of The Morgan Group Inc., the Houston-based firm that is developing the project with SAS Development LLC. “Thus far, the supply has been predominantly high-end, high-rise condominiums. We see a definite market here for luxury units to rent vs. purchase,” he says.

Marina Place will have a contemporary feel, with angular roof lines, stucco exteriors with building colors alternating in muted green, peach, ecru and deep rose, says Shawn A. Schraeger, principal with SAS Development.

The city’s redevelopment agency, Centre City Development Corp., will install decorative sidewalks and street lamps. Previously, the 1.38-acre parcel served as an old Greyhound Bus maintenance yard and two parking lots.

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