If you are familiar with Park Boulevard in San Diego, you no doubt have noticed the iconic Mondrian-esque bar located at 3780 Park Boulevard named THE FLAME. Its hard to miss with its colorful facade and neon sign, but for the past several years it has been vacant while the district surrounding it has developed into a much higher density mix of residential and commercial projects. The once vibrant facade has been painted black with red accents, undoubtedly in an unsuccessful attempt to brand it as "Goth".
One project that has not changed is the building to the south of The Flame, the Egyptian Court. My brother Jim Nicholas of Clownfish Properties bought this predominately one story apartment building in the 1980's amidst much controversy as the previous Owner, in an effort to obliterate its architectural significant attempted to jack hammer all of the plaster Egyptian Revival ornament off of the building with the intention of replacing the building with a higher density project. He was stopped as the tenants wouldn't allow it and an uproar erupted in the local community and media. The previous Owner was so maligned that he decided to sell the the project. At this point brother Jim stepped in, and being the steward of good architecture that he is, recast and replaced all the destroyed ornament and brought it back to its original glory. He also replanted the landscaped courtyard with lush plantings consistent with Egyptian Architecture and making the environment complete. He was nominated and won an "Orchid" at the annual design competition, "Orchids and Onions" which judges the best and worst of architecture and public art in San Diego. Needless to say he was celebrated for his efforts.
Over the past couple of years he has been talking (obsessing) over The Flame, which sits next door, he could not stop considering what could be done with this property. In actuality, the architecturally significant part of the project is the facade and the neon sign. The rest of the building is a one story, 6,000 sf concrete box. Jim's idea was to keep the bar, which would be reduced from 6,000 sf to 2,000 sf and building up behind the facade and distinctive neon sign in a respectful and complimentary way. The sign would be repaired and brought back to its original state and the facade which although distinctive, had no windows facing the street. The new design would enhance the existing facade by installing roll up "garage doors" with translucent glass to match the existing color of the existing painted wood panels and would open the space to the street during days with good weather. Everything else about it would be faithful to the original design. The residential portion of the project will have 6 apartment units, 4 of which will be two level duplexes. Two of the units will face the street, while the other 4 units will face a private, internal courtyard. After a somewhat arduous entitlement process, the Historic Resources Board unanimously approved the project and we expect it to be submitted for permit in July and with any luck, construction will start before the end of the year.
NDC was the Design Architect on the project and is working with local architect Scot Frontis, who will be the executive architect.