La Jolla Cove Suites, Prospect commercial block Sold

Major real estate transaction also includes historic Red Rest and Red Roost cottages

EDITING NOTE: The two commercial spaces leased by Starbucks and Pomegranate La Jolla at 1150 and 1152 Prospect St. (respectively) were not part of the sale, as indicated in the original story.

La Jolla Light has learned that a swath of commercial real estate in the Village of La Jolla was sold in December, which includes La Jolla Cove Suites on Coast Boulevard, the adjacent Red Rest and Red Roost cottages, and roughly two blocks of contiguous commercial space just up the slope on Prospect Street, from Carlton Gallery (1144 Prospect) to Haagen Daz ice cream parlor (1172 Prospect).

Although few details of the transaction were available at press time, the Light learned that the property was purchased by Denver-based Apartment Investment and Management Company (AIMCO), which is currently renovating the Ocean House apartment complex it owns at 400 Prospect. St.

La Jolla Cove Suites is now under the auspices of Pacifica Hotel Management. Although Pacifica declined to comment on their plans for the hotel moving forward, Cindy Lempke, AIMCO’s director of communications, said La Jolla Cove Suites “will continue to operate as a hotel for the foreseeable future,” and that retail frontage on Prospect will continue to operate for the foreseeable future as well.

“AIMCO is very pleased to own this iconic property in a beautiful location in La Jolla,” Lempke said. “San Diego is a key market for AIMCO and we look forward to being part of the community.”

A representative for Carlton Gallery told the Light the business has a substantial amount of time left on its lease and has not been notified by AIMCO of any planned changes in the use of the property.

Of concern to many is the fate of the Red Rest and Rest Roost cottages. Built in 1894, the craftsman cottages were purchased in 1967 by La Jolla Cove Motel and Hotel Apartments (today known as the La Jolla Cove Suites).

The family-owned company had sought to develop the cottages as a hotel in the mid-1970s, but were thwarted when preservationists successfully obtained city, state and national historic designations for Red Rest and Red Roost.

The cottages — one of the subjects of an exhibition at the La Jolla Historical Society that opens Feb. 14 in its Wisteria Cottage Galleries — have sat unoccupied for nearly three decades, with little to no upkeep, in what some view as a prime example of demolition by neglect.

Krista Baroudi, part of the property’s family ownership and former chief executive officer of La Jolla Cove Suites, sought numerous ways to develop the property in a way that included restoration, preservation or replication of the dilapidated cottages (one such plan allowing for development of a hotel at the rear of the property, though investors were leery of the proposal).

In 2003 AIMCO demolished five of the Lincoln Place Apartments in Venice, California before an appellate court could hear historic preservationists’ pending stay of the demolition permit. Designed and built from 1949-1951 by preeminent African American architect Ralph Vaughn in the garden city movement style of urban planning, the 45 remaning Lincoln Place apartment buildings have since received state and national historic designations. Today, AIMCO is nearing completion of a major rehabilitation of Lincoln Place, in partnership with the Los Angeles Conservancy. The rehabilitation was undertaken in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

Lempke told the Light plans for its newly acquired property in La Jolla include a design review “based on current zoning and permitted uses, that will involve a typical and complete governmental and public review, once concepts are developed. The design concepts produced will take into account the historic sensitivities of the site.”

Responding to Light via e-mail, La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Heath Fox expressed optimism that AIMCO would respect the structures’ importance to La Jolla’s past.

“Red Roost and Red Rest are extremely important historic properties representing the cottage vernacular architecture of early La Jolla, especially important because of their proximity to the Cove, and an example of housing design that influenced the development of the California Bungalow style,” Fox said.

“They are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, the California Register of Historic Resources, and the San Diego Historic Properties Register. We are very excited that AIMCO, whose list of corporate values includes environmental sustainability and community service, has acquired this property and we look forward to working with them on a rehabilitation and adaptive reuse plan for these iconic and historically significant cottages.”

Litigation regarding the specifics of AIMCO’s ownership with some of the former family owners is ongoing. On Jan. 12, the City Attorney’s office sent a letter to the law firm representing AIMCO, advising them that the historic red cottages on Coast “must be maintained in accordance with the City of San Diego’s Vacant and Abandoned Properties Ordinance,” which includes “maintaining the property free of waste, debris, trash, weeds and graffiti” and assuring “the property is properly boarded and secured.