Boutique-style living draws devotees in San Diego

Authentic, eccentric, creative and unique: These are just a few words that describe boutique rentals in San Diego, a growing trend among those who also value personality — not just price — in their housing choice.  

In the face of soaring home prices and diminishing interest in high-rise living, many San Diegans are opting for high-end rentals in boutique communities — multiunit housing that fosters a sense of connection and community while also offering a crucial, comforting escape from hectic urban life. Each of these properties, a community within itself, reflects the culture and vibe of its unique neighborhood.  

There’s also another big bonus: Most are an easy walk to an array of San Diego’s best restaurants, craft breweries and locally owned shops.  

Dan Feder, the founder and president of F&F Property Management, develops, owns and operates more than 20 of these boutique properties. Being the owner-operator and landlord translates into better service for the tenant than a third-party management company would provide, he says.  

“As a landlord, you have kind of a social responsibility to have folks feel like this is really their home,” he says. 

When Dan began conducting property renovations over five years ago, he wanted to offer renters something no other landlord and developer in San Diego offered at the time: living opportunities that matched both a renter’s lifestyle and the ethos of the community.  

Local designer Michelle Harrison specializes in lifestyle design concepts with character and has worked with Dan for years on numerous complexes, helping him create these one-of-a-kind apartments and bringing those concepts to life. She praises his creative vision and said she loves working with him.  

“He will say, ‘Let’s just do something totally different; think about something you have never done before,’ and it works,” Michelle says. “It makes people say, ‘I want to live here.’ ”  

Some of F&F Property Management’s boutique renovations include units in the University Heights and Rolando neighborhoods, and the cities of Chula Vista and La Mesa. Rolando is mostly residential, except for the stretch along El Cajon Boulevard, which features the conveniently located Campus Plaza shopping center with a Vons grocery store and numerous places to eat. La Mesa, only nine miles east of downtown San Diego, has an up-and-coming dining scene, with several acclaimed new restaurants and breweries. It’s great for those who want the conveniences of downtown living, but with less hustle and bustle.  

F&F Property’s latest project, The Evelyn, is its first from-the-ground-up complex, located in North Park. The Evelyn, at 2129 El Cajon Blvd., is next door to the trendy Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows, and within walking distance of several restaurants.  

“North Park reminds me a lot of what Hollywood felt like 25 years ago — not the entertainment side, but the artistic side,” Dan says. “It’s a very vibrant community, and you know it’s good when you have great restaurants, talented chefs, breweries and much more to come.” 

Architecture firm AVRP Skyport Studios has worked on The Evelyn project since Day One. The building, not your run-of-the-mill complex, takes advantage of the site’s three-dimensional aspect with units that accentuate vertical space.  

Chris Veum, president at AVRP Skyport Studios, played an aesthetic role working with the building’s exterior, colors, shapes and finishes. Dan and Chris’ team worked together closely to create something unique to ensure that it appeals to the right audience and their lifestyle. 

We asked, “Why ‘Evelyn’?” and Dan’s answer was simple: He has four kids and likes to name a special project after each one. At the time he started this one, daughter Evelyn was just 18 months old and, he says, he wanted it to remind him of her — beautiful and classy. The units at the Evelyn are bigger compared with many others on the market, and Evelyn, although little, has a really big personality, he adds. 

Now that she’s 4, he also gets to see the biggest smile on her face every time they drive by her namesake, Dan says.  

F&F Property Management is a truly family-oriented business with an incredible company culture. The knowledgeable and local team members came up with the tagline they live by: “Do the right thing, plus one.” It means, Dan says, that you are not just doing the right thing but you believe in your heart that you are doing the right thing. Those “plus ones” come when putting in that little extra effort — when no one is looking. The team extends this motto to all of its communities and residents, part of their goal to make residents feel at home. 

F&F Property Management has highly desirable boutique rentals in Golden Hill, South Park, North Park, Paradise Hills, East Village and the city of El Cajon with the goal of adding more properties every year in other parts of the county. If you are looking to live in a neighborhood with its own local flavor and culture that fits your unique lifestyle, check out their available properties at

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