Grand Pacific going grand again

4th & J
February 1, 2016, 4:52 PM

The historic Grand Pacific Hotel building, one of the earliest properties to be restored in the Gaslamp Quarter, has been sold for $6.8 million, and its new owner vows to make it grand again.

“The building is in a little bit of disrepair,” said Sumeet Parekh, managing partner of HP Investors, which bought the 15,000-square-foot building at 360 Fifth Ave. this month from Sweeney Enterprises.

The lead-based paint is peeling, the planters are dead, and some of the wood on the 1887 building is rotting.

“It needs a little bit of tender loving care,” he said. We want to strip, sand and repaint it (in its original beige with blue trim) and bring it back to its old glory.”

The three-story building is located at the key intersection of Fifth and J, near the south end of the Gaslamp Quarter near the San Diego Convention Center and west several blocks from Petco Park and burgeoning East Village.

“I think we’re going to start to see some more retail come into the market,” Parekh said. “It’s similar to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, where primarily it’s been a restaurant and entertainment district and now has become a little more balanced in retail.”

Cushman & Wakefield retail broker Michael Burton, said he hopes to find a flagship retailer to spark more shop openings on Gaslamp’s main north-south spine.

“We just kind of need that domino — that one big deal that gets all the rest of the guys back onto the street,” Burton said. 

CoStar Group lists nine tenants led by San Diego Trading Company at the key corner location. The upper office floors, where hotel guests and low-rent residents once lived, have been operated by Grand Pacific Executive Suites.

“We’ve seen the market really wanting great creative office space, more open floor plans,” Parekh said. “The interior will be renovated to have the spaces be more wide open, less enclosed. That’s the trend downtown in office in general.”

HP Investors owns numerous properties in the area, including the Gaslamp Square parking and retail spaces to the south and Sofia Hotel on West Broadway.

Built during San Diego’s railroad-inspired real estate boom of the 1880s, the Grand Pacific was a project of attorney Frank Jennings and physician George Crippen. The G.C. Clements & Co. architectural firm fashioned it in the popular Victorian Italianate style with galvanized iron cornices, decorative balconies and columns.

The Helping Hand missionary group took over the property between 1901 and 1920 and opened a restaurant. A new organization, Open Door, was founded to help poor women and destitute families and later went on to become Children’s Hospital of San Diego, according to a Gaslamp history by Susan Bugbee and Kathleen Flanigan.

In 1975 Shirley J. Bernard and her daughter moved in and began renovating the building, one space at a time. She received an Orchid award for her restoration work in the annual Orchids & Onions architectural contest before selling the property in 1980.

Michael Trimble, executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association business group, said the area around the Grand Pacific needs “activation” by new shops to meet coming demand expected from the upscale Pendry Hotel, due to open across the street this year.