Manhattan has NoLIta, San Diego has NoLi.
Both refer to the area known as “North Little Italy”. San Diego’s NoLi is the part of Little Italy that stretches north of Grape Street all the way to W. Laurel Street and is closed in by Columbia and India on the East and Pacific Highway on the West.
NoLi is an ecclectic, six-block stretch that has been best known for its quaint and funky antique & furniture stores. The micro-neighborhood has blossomed lately and among the pioneering small businesses are craft coffee shops (Bird Rock Coffee and James Coffee Co), bars (Ballast Point, Bottlecraft, 98 Bottles), restaurants (Juniper + Ivy, El Camino, Kettner Exchange) and creative companies (Bluemotif, Happenstance, bumbleride). The low and mid rise commercial buildings with unique architectural features break the molds of uniformity and the flight overlay development restrictions ensure the streets will stay sunny without significant density. There is so much potential in this pocket of downtown and the right people have already taken notice. Citymark Development (M2i, Farenheit, Doma) is in the final stages of entitlements for their new, highly anticpated project, Kettner Lofts.
Olea Little Italy, 30 apartments on Kettner and W. Juniper, fully leased up before even opening in mid-2014. Tenants lucked out with Bottlecraft and Bird Rock Coffee swooping up the retail. More projects are in motion, ranging from larger developments to interesting infill. More restaurants are on the way as well with Brian Malarky taking over the former Mixture space to launch a new restaurant and Chef Richard Blais set to open a sister restaurant nextdoor to J+I. If you want to keep tabs on NoLi’s progress, best to peddle in as parking is scarce or catch NoLi nights.
For more information about Fabric Investments visit www.fabricinvestments.com.
Brendan Foote is principal of Fabric Investments, a creative development + redevelopment company in San Diego, CA.