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Stacey Pennington's Part in the Reinvention of Downtown

San Diego Mixed-Use

Makers Quarter urban planner Stacey Pennington is creating a new urban core neighborhood, though she’s the first to stress that the mixed-use development--the urban placemaking--is a group effort. Stacey will talk all things mixed-use at Bisnow's Evolution of Downtown event on Nov. 13 at 8am at the Westin San Diego.

Markers Quarter is still early in its evolution, with another five to 10 years before it comes to fruition as a neighborhood. The vision guiding the long-term development, Stacey says, is to create a dense and sustainable urban space that fosters a healthy, walkable lifestyle for residents. Such urban spaces are in demand, especially among Millennials and the companies employing them, so Makers Quarter is aiming to be an employment hub for Downtown and the region. The goal is for the neighborhood to be "personalized and mature," similar to the recent transformation of Little Italy, Stacey says. Eventually, the neighborhood will hardly seem planned.

Stacey’s contribution to Makers Quarter owes much to her own growth as an urban planner. An important part of her development in the profession came in the mid-'00s, when she received her master's in urban planning from Harvard, and then won a year-long fellowship to research sustainable and cost-effective housing in urban areas in Europe. The thinking in Europe then--an approach more attuned to creating housing and a public realm that achieves certain levels of sustainability, solid infrastructure, and distinctive public spaces--was more holistic than it is in the US even now, she says. However, she’s seen an incredible shift in the vision and commitment Downtown to great open spaces and the importance of placemaking. Stacey's snapped with local artist Christopher Konecki.

Another important influence on her planning for Makers Quarter, Stacey says, was her time with Downtown San Diego’s Public Open Space Implementation Plan, which she worked on as head of her own company, SLP Urban Planning, as a part of a larger team led by Spurlock Poirier. “Our team was tasked to look at spatial planning, long-term operations and maintenance, programming, and intra-governmental coordination,” she says, a process that amounted to two years’ outreach among every agency involved in Downtown. One powerful public-space idea to emerge from that process, she tells us, was concept of the Promenades, which are now being implemented. The Promenades promise to enhance the city’s walkability and promote linkage among parts of the urban core. To the right of Stacey in this pic is San Diego City Council prez Todd Gloria.

Early in her career, she worked for her father, Rob Lankford, founder of Lankford + Associates, on such projects as Broadway 655 and Smart Corner. Lankford + Associates, along with Hensel Phelps and HP Investors, are the key players in the development of Makers Quarter. Stacey, who's lived in San Diego since '84, and her husband James have two sons, Cole and Beau. She hopes that one day, they both might consider East Village (and maybe even Makers Quarter) as one of the best neighborhoods to have a great job, walkable lifestyle and--if they have families of their own--have access to high-quality education, recreation and amenities. Stacey's flanked here by her parents, Rob and Susan Lankford. (Sign up here!)