Zero-Commute Property Takes The Modern Route In San Diego

front exterior of a modern live-work residence near San Diego's Balboa Park
The three-story San Diego residence is divided into four independent units. (Willis Allen Real Estate)

An owner live-work space, a family compound, a mixed-use investment property … the options are abundant at this four-unit contemporary near San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Called Modern on Fifth, the owner-build project was constructed in 2017 and designed by Safdie Rabines Architects, which specializes in socially responsible architecture and urban planning.

Skylights and windows bring sun into the top floor penthouse.

Skylights and windows bring sun into the third floor penthouse. (Willis Allen Real Estate)

The three-story building has a stylish façade with strong horizontal lines and expanses of glass. As an owner-occupied live-work space, the property offers total independence from the main residence and the office.

Among the living spaces is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse with 2,800 square feet of interiors. A long island with bar seating for six separates the clean-lined kitchen from the dining and living areas of the open-plan space.

A wall of glass opens to a deck with a firepit, more lounging or dining space and an outdoor kitchen. The bedrooms have terraces.

The estimated rent for the penthouse is $10,000 a month.

The open-plan kitchen of the second floor unit features stainless appliances and modern finishes.

The open-plan kitchen of the second floor unit features stainless appliances and modern finishes. (Willis Allen Real Estate)

Top-of-the-line finishes and materials continue in the two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit on the second floor, which also opens to a deck. The kitchen features stainless-steel appliances and a center island with eat-at and prep space.

The 1,800-square-foot open-plan space could rent for $4,250 a month.

A 1,500-square-foot office, which could command $4,250 a month, is convertible to a two-bedroom, one-bathroom residential space.

The 1,020-square-foot storefront, currently outfitted as a fitness center, rents for $3,600 a month. All four spaces are separately metered, allowing the occupants to pay directly to providers.

The garage has three car lifts.

Need a lift? The parking garage has three. (Willis Allen Real Estate)

Overall, the property has six bedrooms and six bathrooms within 7,120 square feet of living space. The garage features three car lifts for a minimum of six parking spots.

Priced at US $6.495 million, 3425 5th Ave., San Diego, is listed with Tommy Crudo of Willis Allen Real Estate. The centrally located property is two miles from San Diego International Airport.

Nearby Balboa Park contains 1,200 acres of green spaces, walking paths, restaurants, shops and the San Diego Zoo.


During four decades of covering luxury and celebrity housing, I’ve looked into people’s homes, lives and property records through many lenses. I was the Los Angeles Times Real Estate section editor for eight years, the Hot Property columnist for six and did stints as a newspaper reporter, copy editor and page designer. My work for The Times Business, Home and Real Estate sections has garnered in-house and national awards for blogging, editing and feature writing.