Park 12, downtown San Diego’s biggest ever apartment complex, is completed


After more than two years of construction, downtown’s biggest apartment complex is finished.

Park 12 has 718 apartments, many of which overlook Petco Park and offer a chance to watch games and concerts for free. Rent prices reflect the amenities and location, averaging more than $3,000 a month.

The more than $400 million project from Greystar has opened in stages. Last summer, a 37-story tower opened (with 371 apartments) and allowed rental revenue to flow in while the rest was constructed. Since then, the development has added 347 more apartments spread out over two six-story buildings at the base of the tower, 45,000 square feet of retail space and a public square.

It doesn’t feel like a bustling community with hundreds of renters. Much of the development remains empty with 220 apartments leased, or 31 percent. Still, Greystar said it is pleased with progress so far because of high rents the project receives and the typically slow lease-up rate for new apartment buildings.

Jerry Brand, Greystar senior managing director, said it is signing about 10 new leases a week, making for a good pace above what is typically seen for downtown and East Village buildings. Also, 347 of the apartments weren’t available until a few months ago.

New apartment buildings typically fill up at a rate of 20 to 25 leases a month, said Russ Valone, president of local industry tracker MarketPointe Realty Advisors. He said it is typical for renters to wait for a building to be completed, unlike for-sale inventory, before signing a lease.

“Apartment people will wait for a new project for a couple of months,” Valone said. “They are not going commit to something way out in front.”

The cheapest apartment in Park 12 is a roughly 582-square foot studio averaging $2,356 a month. One-bedrooms average 823-square-feet for $3,237 a month; and two-bedrooms at 1,310-square-feet for $4,918 a month. Prices can vary based on the location in the complex.

With an influx of new, high-end apartments in East Village, Park 12 still represents the high end of cost, said CoStar data. The East Village average for a studio is $1,714 a month; $2,396 for a one-bedroom; and $3,227 for a two-bedroom.

The vacancy rate in East Village is 19.7 percent, much higher than the countywide average of 4.4 percent. Still, East Village’s rate now is lower than the 27.6 percent vacancy rate reached in the third quarter of 2018 when many new apartments hit the market.

J. Kevin Mulhern, senior vice president of capital markets at CBRE, said East Village is at its peak of new apartments opening and vacancy is higher now as the complexes compete for renters. He anticipated the apartments would have no problem filling up as fewer new complexes are scheduled to open in the neighborhood.

“A reasonable expectation is that absorption is going to be slower in that micro market than maybe some other micro market’s downtown simply because there are more projects available,” he said. “I firmly believe that is a very short-term situation.”

A selling point at Park 12 could be extensive amenities that include two dog walking areas, two pools, sundeck with a hot tub, indoor and outdoor gyms, underground parking, indoor and outdoor security, three clubhouses and outdoor kitchen. There’s also an observation deck on the 32nd floor with views into Petco Park and as far off as Cabrillo National Monument.

It recently opened a game room with bowling, board games, a small theater for watching movies or karaoke, foosball and shuffleboard tables, a golf simulator, and arcade games such as “Aliens: Armageddon” and “Blazing Angels.”

There is also a co-working space, similar to WeWork, that is free for residents. It has wireless Internet, desks, private conference rooms and teleconference capabilities.

Brand said they felt like it was necessary to up its amenity game because of all the offerings from new apartment complexes in the area.

“We knew how competitive it was getting,” he said. “When you live here, you never get bored.”

Larry Scirotto, 44, a basketball referee, moved into Park 12 in August when he arrived in the city from Pittsburgh. He shares a two-bedroom apartment with a friend and prefers the complex because he is able to stay downtown where he likes to hang out. Also, he doesn’t have a car so that makes his monthly cost manageable.

“There is a price for living downtown,” he said, “(but) I love the urban environment. This is where I want to be.”

One apartment Greystar has yet to lease out is a $20,000 a month penthouse on the top floor, roughly 400 feet in the air. The expansive two-bedroom apartment has 28 foot windows that offer panoramic views of all of downtown, Coronado, the ocean, San Diego Bay and Mexico.

There are now four tenants in the retail space, with more expected to be announced in the coming months. Retail tenants so far include F45 Fitness gym, Holy Matcha tea shop, Achilles Coffee and Carmelita’s Kitchen Mexican restaurant. A CVS will open next year.

Park 12 was designed by San Diego-based Carrier Johnson + Culture. The firm also designed the Shift apartment building in East Village, known for its 240-foot tower painted the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge, and the 15-story Sempra Energy headquarters on Eighth Avenue.

The front of the complex features a public art work by Arizona artist Joe O’Connell. The 22-foot tall stainless steel seashell is embroidered with moments in San Diego history. Greystar has left one spot open if the San Diego Padres win the World Series.