Every condo shopper that is considering a purchase in either the Grande condos or the Bayside condos should look at both buildings. They have a lot of similarities and some big differences that I will lay out below to help you determine which might be the best fit for you.
Developer: Both complexes were built by Bosa Development, the premiere condo developer in downtown San Diego. Tie
Buildings: The Grande condominiums are a twin tower design with a circular driveway between them. Grande has about 460 condos and townhomes. Each Grande tower is a mirror image of the other. Bayside is a single tower with about 232 condos and townhomes. The Grande is about 5 years older than Bayside. Tie
Location: All three towers are lined up in a row, on the “residential front row” of downtown, lining Pacific Highway. This is the closest location to the waterfront you can own a condo, land between these condos and the water is owned by the Port of San Diego which does not allow residential properties on it. Bayside is the furthest tower to the North and the two Grande towers are just South of it. There is a lot of new construction planned on the Port land near these condos. Public information as of fall 2010 suggests the safest views will be at Bayside, follow by Grande North and Grande South will have the most risk of some views to the water being blocked. Advantage Bayside for its safer views.
Floor Plans: The main floors of the Grande condos have six units per floor, three two bedrooms and a den, two two bedrooms and a single one bedroom floor plan. Bayside has seven floor plans on its main floors, all two bedrooms, four with dens. The Grande is shaped like a triangle pointing West towards the bay. There is one single unit on the front (or top) of the triangle that has 270 degree views to the South, West and North, its 1,944 sf. That is a floor plan unique to the Grande and not found elsewhere downtown. Bayside is shaped more like a rectangle with its long sides facing South and North. The West side facing the bay, has 3 units on it, two corners and one in the middle. Its fair to say that each condo complex has 3 units with great water views. The top five floors at The Grande only have three units, the same one on the West point and two larger ones back on each side, with the largest 1,944 sf. Bayside floor plans get fewer and larger starting on the 29th floor with only five units on up to the top four floors which only has three units, these are very large, ranging from 1,800 – 3,200 sf. Most townhomes in both complexes are three stories, at the Grande they are all about 1,900 sf, Bayside has some as large as 2,600 sf. Advantage Bayside for variety and largeness.
Amenities: Both the Grande condos and the Bayside condos have some of the highest quality amenities of any condominium in downtown San Diego. Both complexes have a 24hr concierge, staffed security, lap pools, hot tubs, fitness centers, dry saunas, steam rooms and bike storage. Each also has areas to entertain yourself and your guests. This is where the two towers differ. At the Grande, they have one big entertainment room, sort of a one size fits all, with a caterers kitchen and a rather low ceiling. The Bayside condos have several common areas to entertain in, they have club house with 4 TV’s, pool table, caterers kitchen, plus a private movie theater room with popcorn machine, a wine tasting room with huge wine cooler, conference room and a large reading room with soft music. Bayside also has a staffed guard at the entrance to its parking garage, the Grande does not. One amenity that each Grande tower has that Bayside does not is a one bedroom condo, called a guest suite, that you can reserve for your overnight guests at a nominal fee (about $100/night). Advantage Bayside for quality and variety of amenities.
Interior Finishes: Bosa development is know for its high quality of finishes throughout its many towers in downtown San Diego with the newer towers finishes surpassing its last tower. That trend continued with Bayside which now has the highest level of interior finishes in all of downtown. For the first time ever, they used a quartz stone counter top (often called Caesar stone), they also used Italian cabinetry (Snaidero), Viking appliances, they even when up a notch in the quality of wood used for the flooring. The Grande condos have great finishes but being that its five years older than Bayside its just not the latest and greatest. Advantage Bayside.
Views: The views from the Bayside and Grande condos are one of the primary reasons condo shoppers purchase in these buildings. Every unit in both towers, except the lowest of floors has a great city view, water view or both. The best view in both towers, excluding the top six floors of Bayside, is the 1,944 sf floor plan in the Grande, it has the wrap around bay views from North, West and South. For comparison purposes, lets say this is a five star view. The two units in the Grande adjacent to this unit have 4 star views. Over at Bayside, with three units facing directly West, these have 4.5 star views because they are either only West facing, or SW or NW. However, one of the biggest advantages Bayside has going for it is the views to the North are unobstructed as far as the eye can see because this is the last high rise to be built as you go toward the flight path to the airport. Units on the NW corner at Bayside are the most sought after and this was the first floor plan to sell out, even though it was the most expensive floor plan. If you are in Bayside looking South, or in either Grande tower looking North or South you are looking into another high rise. Note as of fall 2010, the high rise office building planned to be built adjacent to Grande South has not yet been built. Also see my comments in the “Location” section above in this article. Advantage overall Bayside, Best View from one single floor plan is at Grande.
Home Owners Associations (HOA): Each Grande tower has their own separate HOA. HOA fees are about the same between the two complexes, there are some differences but not enough sway a decision to purchase in one tower vs the other. Tie
Price: In 2010, selling prices at the Bayside condos seem about 10% higher than what the Grande condos are selling for. Its very hard for private owners to compete on price with a developer. Most people prefer a new condo over a resale, plus with Bayside higher level of finishes and better amenities, seems like an extra 10% is worth it. That is why Bayside has been the fastest selling condo building in all of downtown, new and resales this year, selling 3 times as fast as the second fastest selling building (Smart Corner). The developer has planned to sell the Bayside units for much more than the current selling price, but with the soft market they had to lower prices and offer a bigger discount than you will usually find in a resale condo. Its safe to say that Bosa would not have built Bayside if he knew all he could sell them for is the current selling prices, this has created a rare opportunity to have such a large disparity in the high quality and low price.
Conclusions: Both the Grande condos and the Bayside condos in downtown San Diego are wonderful places to live, each a high quality complex with great views and a great location. Its been my experience in shopping both buildings many many times in 2010 that it comes down to a buyers preferences for something brand new, expected use of the amenities and which floor plan they like the best. The price disparity has not been enough to sway buyers more than the aforementioned items.