Jan 6th 2016 | Posted in News by Peter Partheymuller

Amid $6.4 billion of construction, downtown seeing public, private investment

San Diego is positively jumping with new investment and development. More than 60 San Diego development projects are currently under construction downtown or soon could be. Included in all of this tumult are new residential towers that brought almost 1,250 new apartment units to the city in 2015, with more than 8,000 further units in the offing.

Photo of Horton Plaza Park by bcgrote licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Photo of Horton Plaza Park by bcgrote licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The private development may be leading the way in the $6.4 billion worth of construction and development in the city’s downtown area, but public entities aren’t far behind. Nearing completion are both the $555.5 million, 22-story San Diego Central Courthouse and the $17.7 million rehabilitation of Horton Plaza Park. As well, a no-longer-in-use city library that is more than 60 years old is being prepared for renovation and re-purposing. A request for proposals seeking developers is imminent.

The new state courthouse has been years in the making, and the 704,000-square-foot high-rise with its 71 courtrooms is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year and open for service early in 2017. It will replace San Diego’s county courthouse, built in 1961, which was deemed too deteriorated for renovation. It is the largest project in California’s $3 billion effort to replace or upgrade 25 judicial facilities, funded by an increase in court filing fees. The state, which took over county court operations in 2002, oversees 20 million square feet in more than 500 buildings.

The renovation of Horton Plaza Park is the result of a public-private partnership (P3) involving the city of San Diego, its nonprofit development arm called Civic San Diego and the owner of the adjacent shopping mall. The park’s rehabilitation was scheduled for completion in September 2015, but inclement weather and other issues have pushed that back to March.

The project involves restoring the park and its central fountain to their original 1910 look, adding an amphitheater and building three pavilions that will host retail and restaurant offerings. The developer that owns the shopping mall will also manage and operate the renovated park once it opens. The shopping center is also due for a reboot, which could range from cosmetic renovations to a complete tear-down and redevelopment. Those plans will be announced later this year, and there’s little doubt many opportunities will arise from that announcement.

In addition to the billions of dollars in residential and commercial development and these two public entity projects, San Diego is on the cusp of even more public investment in its central core. City officials have been discussing an expansion to the convention center, a new city hall has been discussed and (depending on decisions made by the National Football League) a downtown stadium is also a possibility.

The developer of one of those downtown residential towers that is under construction (in addition to eight others he has in the works) is effusive on the city’s future. “San Diego is getting ready to pop,” said Nat Bosa. “I’m sold on San Diego, and I can tell San Diego is really starting to happen.”

Kris Michell, CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, is less dramatic but equally as optimistic: “It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “I think development activity is booming and I see that trend continuing in 2016.”