SAN DIEGO-The transformation of the former First National Bank building Downtown is under way, with Watt Commercial Properties currently turning the historic office building into a mixed-use property housing 84 live/work lofts and approximately 16,000 sf of retail space. Built in 1909 and commonly referred to as the city’s first high-rise facility, the property is located at the corner of Fifth and Broadway. “It is centrally located at the north end of the Gaslamp Quarter,” Jeff Zinner tells GlobeSt.com. Zinner is a project manager with the Centre City Development Corp., a nonprofit entity that assists the City of San Diego with the planning and facilitation of Downtown’s redevelopment efforts. With its prime location and new use as a retail and residential building, Zinner says the project, now known as Broadway Lofts, is “essential for bringing the type of excitement and energy that we’re looking for Downtown.” The renovation of the Broadway facility has been several years in the making, as Zinner explains. The idea was conceived when the building was donated to the City of San Diego. “The city in turn conveyed it to the redevelopment agency and our charge was to basically get the building redeveloped,” Zinner tells GlobeSt.com. He says that a request for proposals was issued, with the redevelopment agency envisioning a significant rehab of the property into an “edgy office or live-work use.” Through the RFP process, the agency found Watt Commercial Properties and signed an agreement with the developer in 2001.As part of the deal, Watt acquired the building for a purchase price of $1.5 million and agreed to give the redevelopment agency a percentage of the project’s future cash flow, Zinner says. “Not only did we get the $1.5 million up front, but we do stand to receive additional compensation through our participation agreement,” he tells GlobeSt.com.The general contracting firm Ledcor is building Broadway Lofts, which has an estimated project cost of $21 million. Completion is currently slated for spring 2005.

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