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June 2008
Living In Style

SAN DIEGO - With its modern towers rising above Naval Base San Diego, the builder of the Navy's cushiest bachelor enlisted quarters is trying to get the word out that single sailors actually could live here.

Crucial to that pitch will be the condo-like lifestyle on a military base in a local rental market that already gives sailors plenty of off-base housing choices.

The Pacific Beacon complex, slated to open in December, has drawn a few hundred interested sailors so far, said Clark Realty Capital development executive Bryan Lamb, during a tour of the complex being built on former golf course grounds.

The company recently received authority to execute leases for the 1,800 slots available in the military's first privately run barracks.

Getting more sailors E-4 and above interested in the fully furnished, master-suite apartments "requires an education on our part," Lamb said. Sailors exiting the nearby freeway cannot miss the towers, but for now, Clark Realty is counting on getting the word out through Navy Region-Southwest's housing office, the Web and through property management partner Pinnacle Realty Management Co. The project's "At Ease" marketing team has set up booths at local events.

Ongoing construction has limited tours of the project. "If we get people up here and show them this is what we're doing, I think it sells it-self pretty well," Lamb said.

One of the big draws to Pacific Beacon will be the mountain or Pacific Ocean views. The corner units offer some of the best views, he said, noting, "it's first come, first served. That's what we're trying to say: Sign up now and pick your unit."

As the stucco-and-glass buildings take shape, project officials hope to debunk myths that could be keeping some sailors from considering Pacific Beacon as their next home. Lamb admitted that some might readily dismiss it as just another military bachelor enlisted quarters, but it's not what skeptics think. "They just have to get over the myths that this is [poorly] done, passé stuff," he said. Too many think "this is Navy owned, Navy controlled. It's privately owned, privately run. We set the rules, just like the private sector. We are a private company bringing what we do to the Navy."

Like downtown living
The complex of 960 dual master-suite units is unlike any other enlisted barracks. The four-tower project is the Navy's first test of a public-private venture designed to provide enlisted housing quicker than the traditional military-construction route and without the Navy having to manage and operate it. The housing is part of the Navy's "Homeport Ashore" program to give shipboard sailors a place to live.

In San Diego and elsewhere, public-private ventures have transformed scores of beige, nondescript military family housing complexes into more modern, colorful and comfortable neighbor-hood communities that look like off-base housing.

The San Diego bar-racks project offers trendy, popular styles compared to tradition-ally drab barracks. Pacific Beacon's towers are painted in terra cotta-like colors and feature blue-green ac-cents, and windows and patio doors reflect the summer sky.

A large, open lobby in the nine-story en-trance building has a two-sided fireplace and several seating areas. It connects the two main towers and features a 3,000-square-foot fitness center, sandwich shop and coffee bar, class-rooms and a tech center, as well as a 24-hour concierge.

"It's just like living downtown," Lamb said.
An outdoor rooftop deck will include a pool and hot tub with views stretching to the Pacific. Two adjoining towers feature rooftop open-air lounges that will be lit at night. Two more towers, due to open by March, will include smaller fitness centers and classrooms.

The amenities are meant to create a strong social element, with barbecue patios, cozy seating areas at the coffee bar, gyms and game rooms, plus outdoor basketball and volleyball courts and a "Great Lawn" at the en-trance.

"We designed how the building functions and how the building lays out for single sailors," Lamb said. "Everything from the way leases are structured to the privacy you get from dual master suites ... and the amount of amenities we have here, and that's affordable. It's all within their basic allowance for housing."

Individual leases The BAH rate for San Diego, now at $1,374, will cover Pacific Bea-con's rate of $1,260. No security deposit is needed. Rents cover electricity, gas and water, but they don't pay for telephone, Internet and cable service, although Clark Realty provides that in a separate package.

Residents sign an initial six-month lease, with month-to-month renewals to accommodate deployments. Most will be able to hold onto their suite when they go to sea, Lamb said, adding, "We want the sailors to be able to leave their personal belongings in their unit and come back to it."

In a regular private-sector rental, a sailor leasing a two-bedroom apartment, for example, might live alone or split rent and expenses with a roommate. But a sailor renting through Pacific Beacon will share the two-bedroom unit with another sailor but sign a lease only for his bedroom.

Two friends could sign up together to share a unit as long as they meet the basic rank and qualifications criteria.
"Everyone has their own private master suite, and you share the kitchen and living room," Lamb said. "Each lease is tied to a bed-room."

Clark Realty, through its partnership with Pinnacle, will have to sign enough leases to keep the building occupied while competing with off base apartments, condos and houses for that sailor's monthly housing benefit. The company likely will have to reach sailors moving to the area, coming off a ship or looking to cut their rent or upgrade their off-base living.

"I imagine it will introduce some competition into the market rental arena," said Michelle Slingerland, a San Diego County Apartment Association spokes-woman.

Rental prices around San Diego vary from $1,000 to more than $2,000 a month, depending on location, size and amenities. A two-bedroom, two-bath rental apartment or condo in San Diego rents for about $1,600 a month, according to data from http://www.apartmentratings.com .

Prices for a two-bedroom unit in the greater San Diego County area averaged $1,436, and prices have been on the rise, according to the association.

Neutral furnishings
Pacific Beacon's units average 1,000 square feet, and all but the first-floor units have balconies. The living room opens to the kitchen and foyer. The dual master suites sit off opposite ends. Unit furnishings include a pair of barstools and sofa, chair, tables and TV console in the living room.

The kitchen has matching black appliances, maple wood cabinets, enhanced Corian countertops and laminate flooring.

"All the units have washer and dryer, full size," Lamb said, opening a door to show a stackable pair. Each master suite has neutral carpeting and includes a full-size bed, headboard, dresser, desk and chair, plus a walk-in closet. The full bathroom's shower-and-tub includes a curved shower rod.

The open kitchen forced Clark Realty to rethink the kitchen's placement, appliances and cabinet design. "When you're sitting there, you are looking at cabinets, so you better have nice looking cabinets," he said, pointing to the living room. "So we tried to put some money and some time" into it.

Fewer rules
Since it's a private complex, albeit on a military base, sailors will find a looser set of rules than BEQ living. With furnished units, "if somebody breaks something, they'll have to pay for it," Lamb said.

But unlike BEQs, sailors have no restrictions about overnight guests - including opposite-sex visitors - and there's no ban on alcohol, although state drinking laws still apply. And perhaps best of all: No inspections.

"No one can break into your room and say, 'Do this.' It's your room," Lamb said. But, much like off-base apartment complexes, residents will be responsible to the on-site property manager for maintaining the unit and for following basic rules, such as quiet hours and cleanliness. But it won't be so military-strict.

'We want people to come up here and sit on the pool deck and have a drink. That's allowed," he said. 'We want people to be able to have friends over their house."

'The only rule we have here that is different is no coed in the same unit. That's the only rule" the Navy wanted, he added.



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