Baltic Inn / San Diego, California
The Baltic Inn is a single room occupancy hotel (SRO) in San Diego's revitalized downtown. This type of hotel houses primarily low-income and transient residents and is often the last housing option available before homelessness. Over the last several decades, robust development in San Diego has gradually displaced a limited stock of SROs.
The Baltic Inn contains 204 rooms, 10' x 12' and 10' x 16'. Each room features an innovative, standardized built-in wall unit with water closet, lavatory, storage space, closet, refrigerator, and TV. Common showers are on every floor. Common areas on the ground floor include the lobby, TV lounge, vending area, bicycle storage, and laundry. Interior light courts allow natural light and ventilation into the corridors and rooms. A small front porch at street level and a second porch above the arched entry encourage the "inhabited" street presence so often missing from minimal urban structures. A tower topped by a neon sculpture gives the building a special identity and carries on San Diego's tower tradition.
The design and construction of the Baltic Inn were funded by a low-interest, $500,000 loan from the San Diego Housing Commission and a $2.7 million loan from a private bank. The hotel is a for-profit venture by a private developer.
Like many SROs, the Baltic Inn falls into the regulatory void between a hotel and an apartment building. The developer and the architect negotiated extensively with the building department for approval of creative zoning and building code variances. Following the pioneering development of the Baltic Inn, more than 2,000 SRO hotel rooms are now under design or construction in San Diego.
Rob Wellington Quigley, FAIA