Hot Homes: The history and $2 million renovation of The Barcelona in Bankers Hill

The 100-year-old apartment community at 326 Juniper St. is considered a “hallmark” of its era — and a “real estate jewel” of present-day San Diego.

The big, white Barcelona apartment building in Bankers Hill, with palm trees and cars parked out front.

The Barcelona in Bankers Hill was originally designed as an apartment-hotel in the early 1920s.

Nestled at Juniper Street and Fourth Avenue in Bankers Hill stands The Barcelona, a residential complex flanked by palm trees that’s been there since 1923. The building recently completed a $2 million glow-up, but its roots in San Diego history still shine.

SENTRE is the local real estate investment firm behind The Barcelona. We chatted with SENTRE CEO, Doug Arthur, about the real estate jewel’s history and renovation.

A close-up an official bronze plaque marking The Barcelona Historical Landmark No. 440 in San Diego.

This plaque marks The Barcelona’s historical significance in San Diego.

Back in the day

In 1921, developer James E. Collumb partnered with architect Eugene Hoffman to design The Barcelona. It was completed in 1923 as a full-service apartment-hotel with a ballroom, solarium, restaurant, and golf course. Arthur said there were doors in the back that allowed for carriages to be drawn in.

“It really was a hallmark of that era,” he told SDtoday. “It was developed in a style that meshed art deco and Spanish colonial, so it has a little bit of that ‘Great Gatsby’ look and feel to it, a little bit of that Miami South Beach feel to it; palm trees in front of it.”

In 2001, the building was designated as Historical Site No. 440 by San Diego’s Historical Resources Board for its distinct architecture.

The skydeck at The Barcelona featuring tables and chairs, plus views of the downtown San Diego skyline, San Diego Bay, and Coronado.

The city views from the skydeck are epic.

The renovations

According to Arthur, The Barcelona’s multi-phased renovation had been underway since SENTRE acquired the project in 2014. Work wrapped just in time for its centennial.

“Everything we did was intended to preserve the historical charm and relevance of the asset — to engage and embrace with it, instead of departing from it,” he explained.

Some upgraded amenities include a 15,000-sqft basement storage area that’s been transformed into a gym and community space featuring a library, co-working area, bike storage. There’s also 1923 Lounge featuring a skydeck with views of the downtown San Diego skyline, San Diego Bay, and Coronado. This is where residents tend to spend time with their family and friends.

A common space at The Barcelona apartments in San Diego with couches, a pool table, and other seating areas.

Common spaces at The Barcelona are designed to be enjoyed to the fullest.

“It’s all intertwined into [creating] an area that looks and feels the way it would’ve 100 years ago, maybe just utilized a little bit differently today,” Arthur added.

An illuminated sign was also installed at the corner of the building letting everyone know this is The Barcelona. Arthur said his team researched old articles to gather inspiration for the sign from the building’s original design and if you’re flying into San Diego and you’re on the right side of the plane, you can see it from the air.

The Barcelona apartment building on Juniper Street in San Diego, with palm trees and cars parked out front. You can see its historic architecture — art deco and Spanish colonial — and the rooftop skydeck.

Welcome to The Barcelona, SD.

The present

Today, The Barcelona features 90 rentable units and 30+ floor plans. Monthly rent ranges from $1,500 to $2,900. There’s a leasing center on site, and prospective tenants can request tours.

Arthur called Bankers Hill an extremely “liveable” and “engaging” San Diego neighborhood that still maintains a “quiet tranquility.” The community’s proximity to the 1,200-acre Balboa Park is a major draw.

“You sleep in the building, you live in the common areas, and you live in the community as a whole,” he told SDtoday. “Bankers Hill is very much integrated into the experience that is The Barcelona.”

Arthur said The Barcelona is a “jewel to be showcased,” and SENTRE is proud of its stewardship of the real estate asset — and its commitment to preserving the historic building.

“We think it’s something that needs to be and should be preserved as part of the fabric of this community,” Arthur added. “We think it stands out within the Bankers Hill community and within the broader landscape of urban downtown living.”

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