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The Innovation Equation

San Diego
The Innovation Equation

The I.D.E.A. District is creating buzz among San Diego business and community leaders, who hope the 95-plus acres will become a beehive for breakthrough products and high-paying jobs. The district's first mixed-use project, comprising a full city block bounded by E, F, Park, and 13th in downtown, is coming in 2014.


Yesterday, we spoke with Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group SVP Mike McNerney, who says the project will contain about 100k SF of office, 140 apartments, and 20k SF of retail. (Just don't come home tipsy and confuse a mannequin for your roommate.) Lowe was attracted by the opportunity to create a design and technology jobs cluster in Downtown San Diego, so it partnered up with David Malmuth and Pete Garcia, the principals at I.D.E.A. Partners who hatched the concept. They're negotiating a ground-lease agreement with the San Diego Community College District, the owner of their parcel, and are in the market to secure office tenants.


Here'sMike (with wife Tami and Bib the Akita, who is currently overseeing a groundbreaking in the backyard for a milkbone warehouse).With the spec office market pretty soft right now, Miketells us it's going to take close to 100% pre-leasing to get the project off the ground. Lowe and I.D.E.A. Partners are seeking creative companies for the office space. They're already in discussions with several design and technology firms looking to attract knowledge-based employees who want to live in a downtown urban environment. They hope to have some tenants lined up by year-end and begin construction in 2014.


The four levels of creative office space, designed by the local office of Gensler, will boast large, open floor plates (no center core), high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass, and roll-up walls. With about 12 months in design and an additional 18 months of construction, they're probably two and a half to three years away from delivering. Mike says the market is definitely getting better, both on the residential side and on the commercial side. "We think the timing is going to be perfect." (And timing is giving location a run for its money in the CRE game lately.)


The project will feature two interior public spaces--an open courtyard surrounding the residential units (above, some of which will be inhabited by ghosts) and an enclosed, naturally ventilated atrium surrounding the office space. The development is designed to be the catalyst for the 38-block I.D.E.A. District, which stands for innovation, design, education, and arts. The Lowe and I.D.E.A. Partners team was selected through an RFP process conducted by the community college district.

Related Topics: David Malmuth, Pete Garcia