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Lowe's McNerney: Downtown Needs University Presence to Lure Office Tenants

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Downtown San Diego's Renaissance likely won't extend to the office sector until a major educational institution takes the chance on a major campus there. That's the assessment from Lowe Enterprises Mike McNerney (here with wife Tami), one of our panelists at next week's 2nd Annual San Diego's Evolution of Downtown. Certainly multifamily and hotels have been the hot product in Downtown's resurgence. The challenge, Mike says, is attracting office tenants to the market. Especially companies in the booming tech and life science sectors, which have been clustering around universities so far. “That is something we'd like to see in San Diego. [University of San Diego] has been talking about it awhile, but it hasn't happened yet.”

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Lowe, of course, is attempting to kick-start a mixed-use development in downtown with the San Diego Community College District/IDEA District development, with IDEA1, which would—among its apartments and retail—also include some creative office. But not the amount originally planned: 100k SF. Mike says the firm just couldn't get the financing for that amount in Downtown.  The problem is doing office on spec doesn't pencil out in Downtown San Diego, with expected rents still below construction costs.”There's plenty of people who want to do it. It's just getting it done,” he says. Hear more about this at our 2nd Annual San Diego's Evolution of Downtown event, 8am, Sept. 29 at Moniker Group Warehouse. Sign up here.