How we serve our communities
San Diego Downtown Lions Club
If you stand on the corner of Fourth and Market looking north, you will see an impressive fourteen-story building. This is the Lions Community Manor with the purpose of provide low cost housing to San Diego's low income, elderly and disabled citizens. The Club was meeting at the U.S. Grant Hotel and the hotel raised the lunch price from $2.75 to $3.25, and this "outrageous" new price caused the club members to look around for a new meeting place.
The club formed a new nonprofit organization called the Lions Community Service Corporation. The initial board consisted of Chairman Tom Chapman, Roger Martin, Ken Marshall, Navy Captain Jack Graham, Ray Schroeder, Roy Houtz, Leon Anville, Fred Weitzel and Alex McDonald. Initial progress on the building was stalled when the Housing and Urban Development Department froze all funding for 18 months. The Community Service Corporation put the developer on retainer to wait for the freeze to be lifted.
In July of 1975, the funds freeze was lifted, but the initial application was rejected. The CSC only became more determined and decided to improve their approval probability by buying the land for the proposed manor. In July of 1977, the application was again rejected, but this time with the proviso that funds might soon be available.
In July of 1978, the Centre City Development Corporation approved the club to buy the property where the building now stands. Lunches at the U.S. Grant were up to $4.50, so the urgency became critical. The Lions once again petitioned HUD, this time with the support of the CCDC, the Union Tribune, Mayor Pete Wilson and the Chamber of Commerce.
In 1979, the Club received HUD approval and $5.4 million, but the HUD approval only created some problems from the Downtown Business Association that did not want low income housing and preferred luxury condominiums. But the club persevered and the edifice houses the club meeting room as well as administrative office space in addition to the 128 rooms.
Not out of the woods - the club had to do some extra fund raising to the tune of $300,000 to complete the construction funds over and above what HUD would fund. The annual Pledge to Serve became the Pledge to Build. The First Congregational Church of San Diego joined the effort and contributed $85,000, as well as the beautiful cathedral entry door to the Community Room. So with heavenly and mundane funding, construction actually began.
The Manor groundbreaking ceremony was October 13th, 1980. Oddly enough, even for this monumental accomplishment, no print media representatives attended the ceremony.
On May 22, 1981 the topping off ceremony occurred, and the building was officially dedicated on February 6, 1981.
Lions Community Manor is managed by Royal Management Company. Because the wait-list for units in the Manor is more than four years long, it is currently closed to new applications. If you have any questions regarding the apartments at Lions Community Manor please contact the management office at (619) 235-4433.