I left off Thursday telling you I was trying to find out how much those condos up for auction had sold for, the ones that were once hotel suites in National City.

I heard Friday from Manoj Chawla, a regional manager at Pacifica Companies, the project’s developer. He said the auction should not be construed as a sign of insolvency at the company. Rather, hiring REDC, the auction company, was a marketing decision for a project that was not selling well, he said.

“We have to do what the market says,” he said. “As you know, housing is not a pretty picture.”

“It’s a great location.”

He said before the auction on May 17, 50 units had been sold. Add the 32 sold at auction — pending sales, not closed escrows yet — and the 172-unit building is about half sold.

“We are not enjoying the price reductions — it’s unfortunate,” he said, “but it’s better to have an occupied building than an empty one.”

Chawla said the units at auction sold for prices between $145,000 and $325,000. The units being auctioned in the building were once listed between $218,000 and $522,400.

Chawla had touted the project as a great option for affordable housing, telling this to the Union-Tribune in January:

“Bayview has been a great project,” said Manoj Chawla, a regional manager for owner Pacifica Companies LLC. “With everything that is going on in the market we still have people interested. It’s a great location. It’s so close to downtown San Diego.” …

“This was an ideal conversion because all of the rooms were suites,” Chawla said. “We wanted to get something affordable on the market.”

But he’s changed his tune. Friday, Chawla told me if Pacifica would’ve known how tough the market would be, the project wouldn’t have happened.

“We would have never converted them,” he said. “That’s the reality. … It’s not a pretty picture. Housing is just tough anymore.”

I asked Chawla if he’s given up on housing development in National City. But he told me he’s recently bought a house in the county himself, believing the market’s on its way to recovering.

“At this time it’s tough,” he said. “In the long picture, I really feel strongly about National City.”

I’ve sent our brilliant photographer, Sam Hodgson, down to National City to get a shot of the building and the huge sign advertising the units from a starting bid of $59,000. Keep your eyes peeled for that and more on this project.

KELLY BENNETT

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