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What You Should Know About the State of the Market

San Diego

Who needs the Elite Eight? Bisnow's first annual San Diego State of the Market boasted the Elite Six—half a dozen of the real estate industry's top figures, who discussed the direction of retail, residential, and tech space. Videos courtesy of Allen Matkins.

BioMed Realty chairman Alan Gold says Downtown San Diego could get some of the same buildup of tech companies that's happening in the UTC-Torrey Pines area, but the way it's currently set up, innovation and collaboration aren't there. (Nobody shares, like a poorly run group therapy session.) It needs a major research institution to become the first seed and decide that it has enough young employees living downtown to open a satellite or branch office. Video.

Douglas Wilson chairman Doug Wilson talked about how to change the tenant mix downtown and attract the tech industry. While the politics are a challenge, all the other components are in place that make downtown an exciting, dynamic place. It probably will be the younger companies that want to be downtown, "and they can grow up with the city." (It will be cute, we'll put their height charts right next to each other.) Video.

According to OliverMcMillan president Paul Buss, housing led downtown out of the hole and will lead it into the future. Projects will happen not only because of changing demographics (the Millennials), but also because it's become a desirable place to live. Video.

Terramar Retail Centers president Steve Bowers says the trouble high-quality retailers and restaurants have finding locations downtown is forcing them into different formats and unusual footprints. That creates more diversity than you see in a suburban mall. (Though the malls still have a distinct advantage with Auntie Anne's.) Developers helping retailers' need for growth are starting mostly in the downtown areas. Video.

Dealy Development president Perry Dealy says that if a Facebook or a Google came into San Diego, related medium and small businesses would swarm around it. Downtown is trying to create an atmosphere to promote startups. If they're successful, the challenge will be to keep them downtown. Video.

AVRP Studios CEO Doug Austin remarked on how fast downtown's neighborhoods have taken shape. A client once told him that building a high-rise in Little Italy was a risky investment because "It's not the Marina District." Six months later, another developer hesitated about doing a project in the Ballpark District because "It's not Little Italy." (If you don't like the submarket, wait 10 minutes.) Video.

Our moderator, Allen Matkins partner Martin Togni, asked about the amenities in collaborative workspace. Alan says much of that push stems from the lavish campuses big high-tech firms like Google and Facebook have built. “Other companies are now having to compete.” Responding to a question about opportunities in this recovering economy vs. those in the past, Perry says a trend toward smaller projects and more mixed-use urban infill is already under way; available sites "are being gobbled up."