Gary Pernicano: “The outcome wasn’t what I was looking for.”
It's finally time to stop wondering if the Pernicano’s building on Sixth Avenue in Hillcrest will ever get sold. Jeanine Savory, the real estate agent who represented the Pernicano family has confirmed it has changed hands.
Although Savory has verified the sale, she is not giving any details about what will end up in that long-boarded-up space. She told SDGLN there was a confidentiality agreement with the buyer and can't give any specific details.
But on Monday she told the San Diego Union-Tribune, the 25,000-square-foot property will likely become some "sort of mixed-use development combining housing and ground-level commercial use."
Carmel Partners bought the location for nearly $8.5 million which is a few million less than what was expected. The buyers are a national San Francisco-based real estate investment and development firm. They have been elusive to e-mails and questions about what exactly will be built on the site.
Of course, Hillcrest is polarized with many opinions on what should be developed and what shouldn't in the historic district and that may have had something to do with the constant withdrawal of past prospective buyers.
The successful appeal of a lawsuit that challenged zoning changes in Uptown communities which encompasses Hillcrest may have led to another buyer backing out of escrow this past April.
Urban Housing Partners President Sherm Harmer who has worked with the Pernicano family says the development of the site is very good. “It gets rid of the eyesore and it could add some public parking. Hillcrest is ripe to be developed as soon as we get some of the legal stuff out of the way. It’s really sad that the retail businesses are very marginal and they could really use a shot in the arm.”
According to the Union-Tribune Savory said that "based on the allowable density under a City Council-approved community plan update in 2016, about 61 multifamily housing units would be allowed — the equivalent of one unit per 400 square feet."
Savory adds that the latest buyer was comfortable with the community plan and sees the potential in Hillcrest, "Whether they start building before the lawsuit is resolved, I don’t know.”
If it was up to him, Gary Pernicano, the son of the late George Pernicano who started the Hillcrest restaurant, would have put something more consumer-friendly on the lot. He was hoping the property would contain a boutique hotel, apartments, affordable housing and a shopping promenade between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
“The outcome wasn’t what I was looking for,” said Pernicano. “We gave it our best to give the community something back. Our project would have been the centerpiece, the gateway to downtown on Sixth Avenue. But now it’s finally done, and it’s sad to leave because there’s a lot of history. I started washing dishes when I was 6 years old and I was cooking when I was 12.”
Pernicano’s is still a landmark, but not for what originally made it great. The property has become rundown and blighted and thieves have gutted the building of wiring and plumbing.
“I had wanted to open it back up 10 years ago but it kept getting broken into, which cost us about a million and a half dollars,” Pernicano recalled. “But now it is what it is and we got the right price for this time.”