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Old July 29th, 2006, 11:44 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by crawf_231
very impressive
We have more than that..

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Old July 30th, 2006, 12:05 AM   #22
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Here's an article I stumbled upon today. Just an outsider's view of Downtown SD's urban rennaisance

A San Francisco journalist parachutes into downtown San Diego and—perhaps—finds California’s futureby Matt Smith

Editor’s note: Sometimes the best way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes. Matt Smith, a journalist for San Francisco’s SF Weekly, came to San Diego to see for himself how the downtown condo boom was working out. We thought it was a great opportunity to give San Diegans a view of their town from an outsider’s perspective.

Sometimes we forget that others are watching us.

What follows is Smith’s report, originally published in SF Weekly on May 5. In it, Smith details how San Diego’s urban-living renewal got started, some of which you may not have known. He also foresees potential pitfalls and contemplates the possibility that San Diego may be showing the rest of California the path into the future of urban planning.

It’s mid-April, and I’m in San Diego with a group of San Francisco planners, architects, developers and policy wonks, looking at a possible California future that’s unfolding just north of the Mexican border. A 5-year-old boom in downtown condominium construction and the wildly enthusiastic public response to it are forcing builders, planners and local boosters up and down the coast to rethink western America’s supposedly limitless love affair with suburbs and cars.

The early stages of the San Diego experiment portend great things for a state that has become uncharacteristically pessimistic, thanks in part to unchecked urban creep. The bamboo-like growth of suburbia that once made California’s possibilities seem endless is now the state’s greatest burden. Living closer to one another would lessen that burden in many ways, and the revitalization of downtown San Diego provides a hint about how greater urban density can be achieved.

The San Diego experience unveils a glimpse of a possible future in which Californians embrace the dense urban life most of the rest of the world enjoys, while it destroys old myths about California’s supposedly inviolable car culture. But the redevelopment of San Diego’s city center also has spawned plenty of caveats, highlighting the real cultural and political problems that keep Californians from regaining their economic footing.

As the state becomes an ever more massive swath of interlocked freeways, the dysfunctional tangle of governmental entities connected by those arteries becomes increasingly troublesome, not just in terms of transit and development, but in terms of the overall prospects for California. Twenty-six years after the passage of Proposition 13, that measure’s built-in tax incentives urge on the construction of sprawling office and commercial parks and, at the same time, push housing construction constantly into the next county, extending commutes and ruining commuters’ quality of life. Those incentives have infected California for more than two decades, and they have produced their logical end result: near-gridlock from Oregon to Mexico.

A mini-Manhattan sprouting at the edge of San Diego Bay offers hope as medicine for what ails California. But a three-day trip to the state’s southernmost city suggests a complete cure is still far off.

For a century and a half, California has been America’s laboratory of the future, a place where the rest of the country has looked for new cultural, political, technological and business ideas. We achieved our stature based on a real openness to new people and their new notions. Now, though, housing is so scarce in many areas of the state that employers in economic heartlands such as Silicon Valley are moving jobs elsewhere. Commute distances grow by the year; much of San Diego’s work force, for example, drives to the city from southern Riverside County, 100 miles to the north. Outsiders only make things worse, whether they come from Tulsa or Guanajuato. The widespread idea that immigration is an environmental threat stems from this perceived connection between gridlock and growth.

The renaissance of downtown San Diego provides a compelling contranarrative.

The story begins nearly 20 years ago and a half-continent to the north, where officials in Vancouver, British Columbia, pondered what to do about their own version of West Coast sprawl. The city was desperate for new housing in an urban area that had spread 100 miles. Vancouver officials beckoned developers to fallow industrial yards near downtown. Supported by capital flowing out of Hong Kong in the years before its transfer from British to Chinese control, developers were able, within 10 years, to build a miniversion of an Asian city—only nicer. Thanks to careful civic planning, developers were forced to provide land and/or money for ample parks, bikeways and community centers.

Nat Bosa, an Italian immigrant who entered the building trade 30 years ago as a laborer, was among those who foresaw that Canadians would pay good money to live in such a place. “My prediction in 1990 was, in 10 years, it will be fashionable to live in downtown Vancouver, and in 15, it will be a great place to live,” he says. “People now love it.”

As prime, cheap land began to disappear from central Vancouver, Bosa and other Canadian developers looked south to San Diego and saw another abandoned, decrepit downtown. Like Vancouver, San Diego had a beautiful bay to the west, and a hundred miles of traffic-choked sprawl to the east. As in Vancouver, San Diego city officials were anxious to do something about a housing shortage, and to revitalize a decayed downtown. “I felt it was just a fabulous place, with a great climate. I thought it was ready for what I call ‘urbanization,’” Bosa says. “It was lacking on one big thing—more people.”

When San Diego’s Centre City Development Corp., which oversees downtown redevelopment, asked for proposals to build on downtown land in 1997, Bosa and other Canadian developers were at the front of the line. Centre City Development had set in place clear, simple, consistent permitting rules to encourage development in the area. But it didn’t expect anything like the frenzied response from Canadian developers.

“Outside people came in to invest, and they saw an opportunity locals didn’t see,” says Walter Rask, who for eight years was chief planner for San Diego’s downtown redevelopment area, before entering the private urban-design field in San Francisco last year. San Diego officials, he says, “had no clue that there was this market here. It took outsiders to reveal that. What it showed was that there was a huge market for downtown living.”

During the past four years, developers have built 13,000 residential units in downtown San Diego, with another 9,000 under construction or permitted and ready to build. At the beginning of last year, Vancouver’s Bosa was the biggest developer in the city’s central area, with 1,553 units either completed or approved for construction. Intergulf Development Group, also headquartered in Vancouver, had 630 units. Toronto-based Intracorp was third, with 521 units.

Some San Diego civic boosters, anxious to defend $300 million in public investment in a downtown ballpark, contended it was the new Padres stadium that catalyzed the boom. Journalists followed suit, with even The Economist, a London-based magazine that’s usually astute on development issues, saying the stadium “revitalized” San Diego. But Rask says, “That’s nonsense. The boom was on its way before discussion of building a ballpark started.”

Something much more significant than a ballpark lured people downtown: Once-frontier-minded westerners seemed to have grown a yen for urban life. And San Diegans were right about one thing—their new high-rise downtown is a charming place to live. San Diego entertainment districts such as the Gaslamp, Marina and Little Italy neighborhoods are packed in the evening. The new mélange of high-rises and old downtown buildings is visually interesting, exciting even (despite the catty remarks some of the new buildings earned from several of my architect companions). People are moving in from the suburbs because “downtown is where all the party action is,” says Alan Nevin, director of economic research at San Diego-based MarketPoint Realty Advisors.

Vancouver’s kinder, gentler mini-Manhattan didn’t transplant identically to San Diego, a Sunbelt bastion of conservative Republican politics and, therefore, a city averse to government intervention (except, it seems, when it comes to giving money to professional sports team owners).

With hotel tax revenue as backing, the city of San Diego provided $209 million in financing toward the downtown stadium project. Centre City Development provided $76.4 million, using the promise of increased taxes in the built-up downtown area to finance bonds, a technique known as tax-increment financing. This money could have been dedicated to parks or other amenities; instead, it went to the ballpark. “They’re determined to get some parks out of this plan, the people working on the city’s plans. But their money is locked up. It’s paying off ballpark bonds,” says Rask.

If the stadium did not cause the downtown San Diego boom, the redevelopment corporation that encouraged the ballpark and condo towers now must grapple with problems born of a growth explosion the city wasn’t prepared for. Ideally, a dense downtown with lots of apartments would solve transportation problems by putting housing next to jobs. But in San Diego, the forest of new condo towers may leave little space for people to actually work.

“When land was dirt cheap there, nobody was building offices before the housing boom. It was just a function that there was no demand for office space. The concern now is when office comes back, there is no place to build,” Rask says. “San Diego is really pretty skeptical about planning. They feel the property owners know better than planners what’s good for them. If the market is saying there’s no demand for office development, that gets a pretty sympathetic ear down there.”

With little open land left for office buildings that might support new downtown jobs, San Diego may find that its new high-rise dwellers wind up commuting to suburban office parks, creating worse freeway tangle than existed before the condos were built. “To get people from concentrated housing to scattered jobs is really nasty,” Rask adds.

Viewing San Diego’s high-rise spurt in the context of California’s overall housing and transportation problems, it’s hard to argue that it’s terribly relevant—yet. The downtown redevelopment zone represents a speck of land in the vast San Diego urban area, and it accounts for a small fraction of the region’s housing. Downtown may have 9,000 new dwellings on the drawing boards, but developers have taken out 150,000 permits to build tract homes in southern Riverside County, where half the households include a commuter to San Diego, says Marney Cox, chief economist of San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), an intergovernmental agency dealing with transit and other planning.

Successful apartment towers downtown are no match for California developers’ insatiable urge to build outward. They’re driven to the fringe in part by the unusual tax incentives created by 1978’s Proposition 13. Commercial centers that generate sales tax revenue are now far more lucrative for municipalities than are housing tracts, which, thanks to Prop. 13, supply a tax revenue stream that will grow only slowly, if at all, over time. So communities struggle to attract auto malls and box stores, shunning new houses and apartments and pushing sprawl to the next community. SANDAG is working to redistribute sales tax money among municipalities, to erase the incentive to shun housing. But the regional agency has limited pull with other counties.

“That’s the big challenge,” Cox says. “How do we get counties to work together?”

The aforementioned caveats notwithstanding, downtown is where the party and real estate action meet in San Diego. At a Starbucks in San Diego’s Marina District, for example, a pomaded condominium broker leans toward a 30-something man and woman, his knees nearly touching theirs, and offers a confidence.

“What I do is, I tell a developer I’ve got 40 people who are committed, and that way he can go ahead with a project. You’re No. 41 on my list. But I’d be willing to bring you in, if you’re willing to make a commitment,” the broker says, while producing a sheet of paper from his leather satchel, then scooting it toward the couple. “This is privileged information. This price list hasn’t been released to the public.”

The couple look at the list, then at each other. Will the building accommodate two Great Danes, the woman asks. An SUV? The broker nods, smiles and yanks his lure.

“I bought my unit two years ago for $494,000,” he says. “Last week someone offered me a million-two.”

Across the street, Jeanette Kagan, a saleswoman for Bosa Development, is selling units in a hole in the ground that next year will become a 39-story, 222-unit building called the Grande Santa Fe Place. There are only nine units left, the cheapest a 10th-floor two-bedroom for $1.824 million.

“Plenty of people who want to move in there right now would love to sell their $2-million homes and move into a $2-million condo,” says condo king Nat Bosa. “But there’s not enough to sell them.”

Two blocks away from the Marina District Starbucks, ex-Marine Barry Finnegan flogs condos at Associated Realtors. The cheapest two-bedroom he can find downtown is a $519,000, 920-square-foot unit, he says, about the size of an airport bathroom. The seller recently bought the apartment as an investment and is reselling it before the unit is completed. More than 20 percent of the new downtown units are flipped by speculators upon completion, he says.

“If you had come two or three years ago, I could have got you new construction downtown for $350,000,” he says.

With the best downtown San Diego sites spoken for and the units in his next building, a 43-story tower a couple of blocks from the Grande, selling at a brisk clip, Bosa is taking his Vancouver-style developments up the coast.

He’s bought a parcel of land near San Francisco’s downtown ballpark, designated for condominiums, designed for living sans cars. “You’ll get out of your unit and get on the trolley,” Bosa effuses during one of his frequent hops from his home in Vancouver to his condo in San Diego’s Marina District. “This car orientation is going to have to stop.”

Just to the north of San Diego, in Irvine, Bosa has begun construction on two 18-story condominium buildings that will provide a total of 232 apartments; he says these are the first-ever condo towers in Orange County, an area known for its endless landscape of cul-de-sacs and strip malls. “We’re 80 percent sold just coming out of the ground,” Bosa says. “You’re talking about a very little blip in terms of demand. If you go in there and do what we’re doing times 10, everybody would do great. Once you get it started, one friend talks to the next and asks, ‘How is it?’

“It’s a beginning.”
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Old July 30th, 2006, 01:03 AM   #23
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Oh boy, another commision weighs in on the NBC project.

From www.signonsandiego.com

Coastal Commission wants a say in Navy complex plan

Doug Manchester's quest to develop the Navy Broadway Complex on San Diego's downtown waterfront likely won't end with a nod from the city's downtown redevelopment agency.

The California Coastal Commission – his nemesis in the past – wants to weigh in.

San Diego Symphony
“We feel pretty strongly, given the lapse of time and changed conditions in the downtown area, that there's no way the previous consistency determination could be binding,” said Deborah Lee, senior deputy director for the commission. “And in terms of what we understand about the scope of the federal and nonfederal uses being considered, a coastal permit is also appropriate.”

Earlier this week, a coastal commission staff member called Perry Dealy, president of Manchester Development, to begin discussing the needed approvals and whether his proposed condo hotels would be allowed on the waterfront land, Lee said.

Manchester wants to build 2.9 million square feet of condo hotels, restaurants, retail shops, offices and a Navy command headquarters on 14.7 acres of Navy land on San Diego's downtown waterfront. The $1.2 billion project, dubbed Pacific Gateway, would stretch from Broadway south to Seaport Village.

The state Coastal Commission had approved a development at the site in 1991. The city of San Diego agreed with the Navy on a development plan the following year. According to that agreement, all that would be needed to build the project would be a determination by the city's downtown redevelopment agency, the Centre City Development Corp., that the proposal was consistent with that plan.

This week, the staff of the Centre City Development Corp. made a determination that Manchester's proposal is consistent with some numerical standards of the 1992 agreement. The agency's board, though, has postponed any findings on the project until after further research and meetings.

A Navy spokesman said a Coastal Commission consistency hearing to determine whether the project fits in with the state's coastal laws, is unnecessary.

“We believe the original consistency determination is still valid because our proposed actions fall within the parameters of the Coastal Commission's original consistency determinations and conditions have not changed to require another review,“ said N. Scott Sutherland, deputy public affairs officer for the Navy Region Southwest. “The passage of time alone does not invalidate a consistency determination handed down by the coastal commission.”

Dealy, who has acted as the spokesman for the project, could not be reached for comment.

Manchester, who developed the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the Marriott Hotel & Marina downtown has had trouble with the commission before. The commission shot down a beachfront hotel project in Oceanside after Manchester had garnered city and voter approvals. Manchester sued Oceanside for $15 million saying the council and city staff did not try hard enough to promote the project with the state. The city paid Manchester a $2.2 million settlement.

This time the Coastal Commission is interested in Manchester's proposed condo hotels, hotel rooms buyers can buy as vacation homes. Although the Coastal Commission has approved a few condo hotels in the past, it has only been with conditions such as not allowing anyone to stay more than 29 days in a row.

“The priority for shore area is visitor-serving uses and for us that's traditional hotels,” Lee said. “When you start making them condominiums, that reduces the number of accommodations available to the general public.”

She also said the commission has concerns about affordability and that the condo hotels would transition from condo hotels into just condos over the years.

“It's a very new kind of project that we are seeing in the coastal zone,“ Lee said, “and we have a lot of concerns about their long-term retention as visitor use.”
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Old July 31st, 2006, 02:00 AM   #24
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Wow. This is kind of resembling the ballpark fiasco. Lots of controversy, lots of people pretending to be concerned, and the big bad developer who has to put up with it. It's actually pretty amusing.
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Old July 31st, 2006, 04:38 AM   #25
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Unless you remember big rusting iron pylons at the ballpark...then its just scary.
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Old July 31st, 2006, 12:11 PM   #26
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These types of reactions and meddling always amazes me. San Diego is supposed to be conservative, especially fiscally, ergo less government intrusions. The Coastal Commission, I can understand since it is a state insitution, but why are all the other govermental insitutions always getting in the way of the other developments??

And the Nimbys. Except for the environmentalists, chances are, most of these people are also conservative. Why should thier opinion matter if the property and money is not exactly thiers? Views are never guaranteed after all. Don't even start with the whole "my property values will fall" thing since it's just the freemarket doing its thing, correcting itself with the new real estate environment.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 05:18 AM   #27
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Upside down, but here's some construction Updates:

Garage work is still underway, and i wouldnt be surprised if the garage work still isnt finished by the end of the year.

I hope the office building looks like the renderings.

I was scared that this building would have too much of an exposed-concrete look, but this tower is turning out pretty nice in my opinion.

Excavation for the Garage is underway. i hope this project gets completed soon.

I personally hate the high rise tower's lack of color with the exposed concrete look, but how does everyone else like this tower?

Suppose to be completed by June 2006, but it looks like there will be a couple of months left of exterior and interior work.

looks like they're just doing work on the exterior.

Work is on either the 26th, or 27th floor, but this tower should be completed on time. lookin good so far.

The tower is making real good progress with about a floor per week. Work is now on the 7th floor.

I'm curious what the little rooftop stadium is going to look like. and when are they gonna start painting the tower?

Not sure what floor the hotel was on, but last time i was downtown, it was like the 6th or 7th floor.

I cant tell what floor the tower is on, but it's lookin real real nice.

I cant wait till they really start the exterior work on the tower. looks real good so far.

Site clearing i think is finished, and the CCDC just approved new design changes to make this project 290 units instead of 239. I think pretty much everyone loves this one.

Site clearing is underway, but i dont know when they'll start work on the tower.

Work is on the excavation of the garage.

Construction hasnt yet started, but this project im pretty sure will happen cuz Bosa's doin a lot of marketing for the tower.

Garage is back to ground level, and the tower should rise quickly from here.

Topped out, and hopefully, they'll paint the tower. But it looks pretty good regardless.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 05:44 AM   #28
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nice update
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Old August 1st, 2006, 06:14 AM   #29
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Thanks for the update.

About the exposed concrete, I agree I think it looks ugly. Fine to have it here or there, but to have an entire tower look like that seems wrong to me. They are like the big box buildings of the 80's, and everyone knows that in a decade we're going to look back and ask: what were they thinking?
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Old August 1st, 2006, 06:40 AM   #30
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Looking at Bushmann's updates, by year's end the Legend, Smart Corner, DiamondView, ICON, Park Terrace, Electra, The Mark, Hard Rock, and Alta will have made their permanent impressions in the skyline. That's about 9 new additions.

Next year I'd say Vantage Pointe, Aria, Hilton, Sapphire, Bosa by the Bay (?), Aperture, Current, The Diegan and possibly Cosmopolitan should be taking shape by then. That's another 9 new skyscrapers.

Did I miss any?

Last edited by mongozx; August 1st, 2006 at 11:02 AM.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 01:47 AM   #31
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Thats so much in addition, things are going to be great reguardless of a slowdown.

The Public Face Of The Manchester Pacific Gateway Project:

Perry Dealy, president of Manchester Development

The president of Manchester Development, driving the Manchester Pacific Gateway project on the Navy Broadway Complex, soft-spoken Perry Dealy, has been developing San Diego real estate for nearly 30 years, arriving here in 1977 to work as staff architect developing SDSU’s master plan and finishing its new arts building. He later worked on its bike trails, new library and the athletic master plan for football and baseball. Later, he ran Pat Bowlen’s development of what is now called the Wells Fargo Plaza in Downtown San Diego, and worked on the San Diego Convention Center expansion, Lindbergh Field master plan, Rancho Bernardo Corporate Center, Centerside office towers in Mission Valley, Century Centre office complex in Irvine and the ever-popular Qualcomm Stadium expansion. (Financing of the Qualcomm expansion was not his idea.)

Earlier, he served with the Marines in Vietnam, earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in architecture from North Carolina State. He, his wife and son live in Point Loma. He prefers to ride a Tomaso, an Italian road bike, having given up his Harley 15 years ago.

Metropolitan: What are the chances of shrinking the Pacific Gateway project below 2.9 million square feet?

Dealy: Not likely to happen. It’s the right size for the proper balance.

But that’s what you said at 3.1 million square feet.

We had above-grade parking and we’ve put it below grade, so we didn’t really lose any program space. We reduced the bulk and scale (above ground) by 300,000 square feet. Actually, we were up to 3.2 million square feet when we heard CCDC and the community raise concern about the bulk and scale.

What’s the breakdown of the 1.65 million gross square feet of Navy and commercial office space? What about subsequent phases?

It’s 373,000 for the Navy. That’s a first phase and as it turns out, that’s all they’ll probably require. It does not look like they’re going to take that option (for a second building). Looks like it will be a private building instead.


No, hotel.

So there will be another 1.2 million of office space, right?


What’s the timing expected to look like, development and construction?

There are eight blocks in the master plan. The four southern blocks including the Navy build-to-suit will commence construction in 2007. The Navy building should be well under way in February and the other three blocks would be under way by summer of 2007. By January we have to have our lease approved by Congress, no later than Jan. 1, 2007. After we get the CCDC consistency review approved, then we will finalize our lease and submit to the Navy a signed lease, which then goes through an approval process through the Department of Defense and Congress. They’ll have three months to get that completed. If they could do it in two months or one month or three, it’s in their hands at that point. Existing legislation allows for this project to take place. We’re optimistic that once we sign our lease that we will get it approved by the federal government.

Who do you work with?

We deal with both Admiral (Len) Hering, and Capt. Mike Allen. They’re very professional, they’re fast and efficient. They’re decision makers, very professional and are working hard as our partner to do what they can to help the project become a reality. They’re committed to the Manchester team and they cut through the red tape whenever possible.

Has the bureaucracy been worse for this project than anything you’ve done?

Absolutely not. We thought we’d be inundated with red tape. But we are dealing with the highest level of real estate professionals within the DoD and the U.S. Navy and they have full authority to make decisions. It’s been, quite frankly, a pleasant surprise in getting decisions made. They are reviewing all of the business plans for the real estate deal. They are looking at the build-to-suit for the Navy office building. They are reviewing the master plan. They did (review plans and revisions before CCDC reviewed them) except for the one plan that became controversial. That’s the 3.2 million-square-foot foot version with four acres of open space and bridges across the Paseo. It was maximizing the development agreement. It went simultaneously to the Navy and CCDC. Since then, we’ve respected the fact that the Navy needs to review it before we submit it to the public. I think they want to be aware of where the planning is and to make comment. It’s their property. They’re the landlord and they have to approve everything we do on the property.

What next document or agreement needs to be reached with the Navy?

That’s the lease agreement. That one we (should have) conclude(d) by the end of July.

When would groundbreaking be for what?

Two hotels and a Class A commercial office building and the Navy office building would all be 2007, about 185,000 square feet for the commercial office building. All the remainder is in Phase 2. The southern four blocks are the smallest parcels. The height of the buildings is 400 feet at Broadway (and Pacific Highway) down to 120 feet near Seaport Village.

The next phase of office could go as soon as 2008; it just depends on the market. We have to wait to relocate the Navy into their new building before we can tear down their old ones and build the two tallest buildings. They would be on Broadway and Pacific Highway, and on E Street and Pacific Highway. Those two buildings contain about 800,000 or 900,000 square feet of office, combined. There’s another freestanding office building of 200,000 square feet at Harbor Drive, between E and F, that we could build simultaneously with the second phase. But given the kind of tenant base we’re going after (if the demand improves), we have the ability to do that 200,000 square feet earlier, so a total of 400,000 square feet of commercial office in the near-term is possible.

The hotels will all be condo hotels, like the Hard Rock Hotel. Not unlike the Hard Rock, we see an opportunity to have consumers enjoy ownership into a hotel, so as you travel into San Diego on vacations, you’re able to have a place pre-determined in a Downtown urban waterfront environment. There’s a big demand. We don’t know how deep it is. But there’s a pent up demand for this kind of a project and we think it’s a very good urban alternative. The sales program is part of the equity to make the project more viable financially. That’s a concern. People are saying: “How fast can you build this?” Well, we’re ready to build Phase 1 right away and we’ll go into Phase 2, if the market remains solid, as fast as we can as well.

About $1.3 billion is the total development value. First phase of four buildings would be valued at $288 million not including the Navy build-to-suit. So add that in and it would worth around $450 million or $500 million.

Who is the artistic heart on the architectural team?

Art Gensler. Hal Sadler is addressing the historical context as it relates to the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan and is responsible for the Navy build-to-suit, along with collaborating with Art Gensler on the master plan, and liaison with CCDC. He’s turning out to be more of an integral part. The change the master plan has been going through, trying to address the historical context of what was intended for the plan, and how to integrate it all.

What happened to Gordon Carrier?

Gordon was part of three architectural firms on the team to help us with the master plan and once we got more involved in the modifications to the master plan, there was only room for two large architects. So we chose to stay with one of the the largest international architects in the world (Gensler), with offices in 26 cities around the world, and Tucker Sadler because of their longstanding history with the North Embarcacdero redevelopment and with Hal’s extensive experience with CCDC. It was a very difficult decision, because there is no question Carrier Johnson also is one of the top firms in San Diego and made some significant contributions to the master plan as it was going through its evolution. His brainstorm was to make the Paseo, the north-south passage through the center of the master plan, a significant pedestrian element.

What do you think of the Irvine Co.’s sincerity in developing more office Downtown, negotiating with Bosa for the old Catellus site, and negotiating with CCDC for the site north of One America Plaza?

I think they wouldn’t have hired the kind of people they did if they were going into a holding pattern. You don’t hire (Steve) Black and Tom Sullivan for nothing. They’re are implementers. They implement product.

Would their projects be a good thing for you?

Yes, I think so. What the Irvine Co. will bring are great relationships throughout California, considering how many tenants they have relationships with. They can give their tenant base opportunities to move into new product Downtown. We certainly encourage competition. You don’t want to build more than the market can bear. But we like our location and believe we offer a different type of product with the Navy proximity, water proximity. I think there’s room for both, not unlike the Lankford building (Broadway 655) and the Petco Park building (DiamondView). We hope they’re both successful.

Is there any satisfying those who’d prefer this property be a park?

When’s the last time a park was built Downtown, outside of the Park at the Park? Of all the locations CCDC could build a park, they’ve had no money to build them. More important, the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan with the 8.4-acre park around the County Administration Building, the two-acre park in the Navy master plan, we’re going to wind up with 35 acres of open space, parks, promenades and plazas along the bayfront.

Doug (Manchester) has made this a significant commitment of his time and resources, and in terms of his own manpower. I think as he’s traveling, he’s staying engaged with this on a daily basis. It’s hard to say how many hours he put in, going through the design and the business side of the project. Everything will be approved by Doug before we formalize any final decision. He feels a lot of pressure to make this a great front door to the city, which is one of the reasons why he’s committed to Gensler Architects, which has tremendous experience in urban mixed-use around the world.

More importantly, he’s been following the Navy Broadway project all along; he competed against a list of nationwide developers and was selected because he had the best waterfront experience. He’s a San Diego developer, a local, and he gave a good economic package to the Navy. He’s “proven” with all the projects he’s built over the years.

What about the criticism that he’s too litigious?

Urban myth. There have been a number of situations where there wasn’t even a lawsuit and disagreements were resolved through business negotiations. I think he’s brilliant. He’s an icon in our industry, not only locally but nationally. He’s contributed unbelievably to this renaissance in Downtown, along with Ernie Hahn and John Moores. I admire him tremendously. I’m working for a man who owns an empire. I enjoy working for him. He’s got a great mind; he’s always thinking of positive solutions constantly. And he has lots of other diverse interests. He’s not just a real estate developer and owner. He has lots of technology investments and is on the board of major corporations. He has a diverse set of investments.

Why do you think the Union-Tribune is so critical of him?

Because Doug hasn’t gone out of his way to schmooze everyone in the community. He’s worked hard to be a good business person, be a good family man and has contributed to charities throughout the community. But he and his wife don’t go out seeking recognition or acknowledgment. That could be misconstrued as arrogance but there’s no way Doug can be considered arrogant. He’s motivated. He’s competitive. But he’s not arrogant.

I think reporters don’t like him more than he doesn’t like reporters. Sometimes what gets conveyed in the public may not be a good representation of some of his qualities and what he’s given to the community.

How much time are you devoting to this project?

This project alone, 30 hours a week, and another 30 doing everything else.

What’s the status of the Lane Field project?

We’re proposing a five-star hotel that will be a major hotel flag — haven’t picked an operator yet — with 500 to 800 rooms. There could be a second-phase hotel. There would be retail, parking, and possibly some office, about 1 million square feet gross, including the hotel, on Lane Field. That’s about four developable acres. The cruise ship terminal is four or five acres.

How did the Port District staff react when Manchester became a partner with Viejas to develop Lane Field?

They embraced it as someone who can get things done on the waterfront. That’s another nasty rumor (that the port doesn’t like Manchester). We’re the No. 1 tenant they have. We pay more rent than anyone else on the tidelands, between the Marriott and the Hyatt.

Manchester employs about 1,800 people, including about 1,400 on the waterfront at the Hyatt. The other 300 are opening the Grand Del Mar and some are in Idaho. More than 1,000 Marriott employees on the tidelands don’t actually work for Manchester.
Things are moving along, I like it.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 05:01 AM   #32
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I told you so, from today's (8/1/06) Daily Transcript:

Developers nix or delay condo projects as sales slow, costs rise

The increasing volume of new residential construction in downtown San Diego, coupled with a cooling market in which construction costs have continued rising while sales activity has slowed, has prompted some developers to halt their projects or sell the property before construction has been initiated.

A recent example in downtown San Diego includes the Atmosphere, located at 1453 Fourth Ave. and 1446 Fifth Ave., which was offered for sale at a minimum bid of $8 million, said Al Hackman of Alternative Realty Solutions Inc. According to a previous report in The Daily Transcript, David Hawkins of H2A Architects (Hawkins & Hawkins Architects) said the Atmosphere project, which he helped design, was picked up by another developer after JS Properties ceased to exist as a company. If this is true, then chances are the other developer is offering the property up for sale.

The land size is approximately 22,564 square feet. The present entitlements consist of permits for 72 luxury condominium units, 14,839 square feet of retail space and 129 parking spaces on three levels. The proposed gross building area is approximately 183,273 square feet on nine floors above ground and three underground for parking. Currently, all that remains on the site is a huge hole.

Another development, 11th & B, has completed all the planning and permitting necessary for construction to begin; however, T.C. Holdings, a Newport Beach-based real estate investment firm, has turned to broker Rocket Rod Inc. and Chicago-based auctioneer Inland Real Estate Auctions Inc. to auction the project.

T.C. was planning to turn the 20,000-square-foot downtown parcel into a 26-story, 200-unit condominium project. The development plan calls for a 232,669-square-foot tower, with 7,000 square feet of retail and 84,000 square feet of subterranean parking.

Another example includes a project located at 526 Grape St. in Bankers Hill across Sixth Avenue from Balboa Park. In November 2005 Olson Urban Housing Inc. purchased the property, which at the time was a 15-unit apartment complex. On March 2, the San Diego Planning Commission approved 4-0 a map and site development permit to demolish the units and construct 22 condominium units on the 0.57-acre site.

The 15 apartments were demolished, but no further activity has taken place. Right now there are several holes in the ground and a chain link fence surrounding the property, but nothing is posted to indicate what will be built.

Another project where construction has not begun is Intracorp's condo development Triangle across the street from the trolley station at 12th Avenue and Imperial. Intracorp also has taken its sign down and replaced it with a Grubb & Ellis|BRE Commercial for sale sign.

"We progressed to the point where we were prepared to pull the building permits," said Tim Baker, assistant project manager. "We got to the point when we had to make a decision from a business standpoint," he said, adding the company sees the current downtown market as a situation in which it could make a larger profit by selling the property rather than by building and selling the development's units in a year.

Initially, Intracorp meant for Triangle to be a mixed-use development consisting of two buildings containing 57 condominiums, 4,000 square feet of retail and 84 parking spaces on the triangular-shaped block.

San Diego is not the only metropolis in the nation where developers are halting projects based on the current housing market and construction costs.

In Philadelphia, an urban landscape cluttered with condominium construction, Old City 205 aspired to shine as an ultramodern residence for the well-heeled with its zinc and glass facade, loft-style homes and windows that span floor to ceiling.

Too bad no one will get to move in now: The $40 million project in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood won't break ground after the housing market softened and increasingly picky buyers balked at its price tags from $400,000 for a studio to more than $2 million for a three-bedroom penthouse.

Brown Hill Development, the company behind the project, noticed slower traffic and decided it didn't want to be left with unsold units, said partner Greg Hill.

From coast to coast, developers are nixing or delaying condominium projects as home sales decelerate, construction costs soar and lenders start to shy away from financing units that might not sell. What's making it worse is the glut of high-priced condos and the absence of people who can afford them.

"We've gone through the biggest real estate boom in the last eight or nine years and some of these projects haven't started yet. Do you think they're going to start building now?" asked real estate executive Allan Domb, dubbed Philadelphia's "condo king."

In Las Vegas, projects nixed include high-profile developments such as Aqua Blue, a $600 million, 825-unit luxury condominium-hotel resort that counted Michael Jordan as an investor; the $3 billion, 4,400-unit Las Ramblas resort, backed by George Clooney; and Ivana Las Vegas, a $700 million, 945-unit tower named after Donald Trump's ex-wife.

Related Las Vegas, one of the two developers for Las Ramblas, had cited rising construction costs and slowing sales for the cancellation.

In South Florida, canceled condo developments include 1390 Brickell Bay and ICE in Miami, Fort Lauderdale's The Waves Las Olas, and Promenade in Palm Beach County. WCI Communities Inc., a luxury homebuilder based in Bonita Spring, Fla., said in June that new orders for its high-rise condominiums fell by 84 percent in the second quarter. The company will now go forward with only three to five condo projects in 2006, down from as many as 15 to 17, mostly in Florida.

With housing looking increasingly anemic, it's not surprising that developers are bailing out.

Domb said he's gotten about half a dozen phone calls over the past four weeks from developers asking if he would like to buy their properties.

In May, the volume of apartment-to-condo conversions plunged to $334 million from $1.65 billion a year ago, said Gleb Nechayev, senior economist at Torto Wheaton Research, a real estate research firm in Boston owned by CB Richard Ellis. The all-time high was $4 billion, hit last September.

Builder confidence, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, fell in June to its lowest level since April 1995. Confidence took a hit due to rising mortgage rates, high home prices and investors and speculators fleeing the market.

The index surveyed builders of single-family homes, where the sales decline hasn't been as severe as for condos.

Jack McCabe, chief executive of McCabe Research and Consulting in Deerfield Beach, Fla., said desperate developers with finished condos are offering plenty of incentives in South Florida.

Freebies range from one year's free mortgage to the use of a yacht or upgraded kitchen packages. McCabe thinks some developers might even sell units at cost if condo sales continue to weaken.

McCabe believes the condo market, especially the luxury end, is at risk of a crash. Over the next few years, he sees prices falling by double-digit percentages.

The luxury condo surplus is to blame. McCabe said about 25,000 condos are under construction in Miami-Dade County, with two-thirds costing $700,000 or higher; another 25,000 units have gotten building permits and 50,000 have been announced for future construction.

McCabe said the median household income in the county qualifies local buyers for a $225,000 home, so the luxury units are targeted mainly toward affluent, out-of-state buyers.

Meanwhile, speculators have driven up prices by flipping units, he said. But they're now leaving the market -- driving down demand -- and putting up for sale properties they own, adding to the glut.

Aside from Miami, he said areas at risk include Boston, San Diego, Las Vegas, Seattle, Chicago, Orlando, Washington, D.C., and Manhattan.

A big part of the problem is that many condo projects are priced high, in part because developers have to recoup the high prices they paid for land. But most buyers can't afford it.

"The sweet spot of the market is probably $250,000 to $700,000," Domb said. "That's what the majority of the population can afford. Many condos are priced higher. That's part of the problem."

Tell that to The Donald. Real estate mogul Donald Trump told the Associated Press that he's going ahead with his 45-story waterfront luxury high rise called Trump Tower Philadelphia.

"It's doing fine," Trump said. "It's been intense. So many people want to move there."

He added interest has been high for the project, which he said doesn't surprise him because his name sells.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 05:27 AM   #33
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No surprises on any of those projects going down. Hopefully some of the bad projects will be "weeded" out with the slowdown.......What are the prospects for the project you helped design,sb???
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 06:48 AM   #34
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oh sbaumberger, always willing to come out of the shadows to announce bad news.

But after reading the article, I have come to conclude that we are fairing a bit better then a lot of other cities. I mean look at Vegas, there has been a complete fall out as it seems. And even if we were to lose a good number of projects, its not like whats been going on hasn't already changed SD for the good.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 08:53 AM   #35
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I look at the slowdown as a good thing. The market has been run by speculators for quite a while now and the steep prices kept downtown largely a rich person's playground. They've priced out alot of what a "real" downtown needs in order to be relevant and care I say it, vibrant. Towers are good and all but activity and stability is what will keep the construction train humming along in the long term.

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Old August 2nd, 2006, 10:44 AM   #36
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I agree. These lots won't stay empty forever. It's just a healthy market correction. Most of those stalled projects were "ehhhhh" anyways. Especially Triangle and 11th&B. I just hope they don't scrap the Embassy project in Little Italy.

Here are some interesting renderings to go along with SDFan's posted article:

While the architecture of each building in Pacific Gateway must meet detailed city design standards, the $1.2 billion project will transform an area now home to a nearly 80 year old military building.

Plans for Pacific Gateway call for extra wide corridors down the streets, opening up view corridors to the water that presently do not exist because of the mass of the existing Navy Broadway Complex.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 11:46 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by mongozx
I agree. These lots won't stay empty forever. It's just a healthy market correction. Most of those stalled projects were "ehhhhh" anyways. Especially Triangle and 11th&B. I just hope they don't scrap the Embassy project in Little Italy.

Here are some interesting renderings to go along with SDFan's posted article:

While the architecture of each building in Pacific Gateway must meet detailed city design standards, the $1.2 billion project will transform an area now home to a nearly 80 year old military building.

Plans for Pacific Gateway call for extra wide corridors down the streets, opening up view corridors to the water that presently do not exist because of the mass of the existing Navy Broadway Complex.

If people really think that that is not a quality development project then they are crazy. Yeah, there may be different opinions on architectural style preference, but that is one solid solid solid looking development right there. I have no doubt it will be terrific. If it were my decision construction would start tomorrow.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 02:48 PM   #38
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Thanks for all of the updates, All.

I'm off to Vancouver to see what San Diego's future may look like I'll try to post some pics when I get back.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 09:39 PM   #39
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what do you guys see for developers of these "proposed" high-rise condo projects in downtown? from what it appears, most developers are afraid that there is too much supply scheduled to come out on the market, right as real estate sales slump. Is there still a market for these high-rise developers, so should they just get out while they still can?
Also, living in LA... i'm curious as to what factors would drive people to live in downtown SD as opposed to places like La Jolla?
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 12:47 AM   #40
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Also, living in LA... i'm curious as to what factors would drive people to live in downtown SD as opposed to places like La Jolla?
Changing demographics and consumer preference. La jolla people tend to be the executives, the CEOS and the administrators. Even those that are not largely of this type live in high rises a bit more inland. Downtown living is more suited for the yuppies and the hipsters(that can afford it). Then there's simply those that are tired of suburban living, irregardless of thier economic class.
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