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IDEA1 Serving As Catalyst For Evolution Of East Village I.D.E.A District

A JV of Lowe Enterprises and I.D.E.A Partners is underway on IDEA1, an urban mixed-use project with creative office space, housing and street-level retail amenities. Bisnow caught up with Lowe’s SVP Mike McNerney, one of our speakers at Bisnow’s San Diego 3rd Annual Evolution of Downtown event May 18.


We talked with Mike (snapped here with his wife, Tami, while preparing to kayak in the San Diego Harbor Holiday Boat Parade) about IDEA1 and the vision for the I.D.E.A District.

The IDEA1 project, which will occupy a full city block, will serve as a catalyst and anchor for Downtown San Diego’s new I.D.E.A. District, a 93-acre sustainable, live/work neighborhood turning the Upper East Village into a design-tech innovation hub.


Mike says IDEA1, which is under construction, provides 292 residential units and 14k SF of commercial space—7k SF each for office and retail uses. “There’s lots of good demand for housing in Downtown, but the challenge is getting companies to relocate there,” he tells us, pointing out the I.D.E.A District is focused on attracting companies and growing jobs in Downtown.

More people live in Downtown San Diego than there are jobs available, Mike says, suggesting the I.D.E.A. District could generate 10,000-plus jobs. “We’d like to see one of the local universities open a campus in Downtown. This is really important,” Mike stresses, explaining it would help attract companies to the Downtown market.


Pictured is a community art event at Warehouse 1425 in the Makers Quarter.

San Diego has come late to the race for 21st century talent, but is aggressively pursuing the highly educated, highly mobile 24- to 35-year-old creatives and entrepreneurs who are essential to growing an innovation economy.

The I.D.E.A District, which encompasses the Makers Quarter, Quartyard, FAB Lab, Urban Discover Academy and SMARTS Farm, provides an environment for the convergance of tech, design, art, culture, makers and educators to support innovation and creativity and generate entrepreneurial projects/startups.


Designed by the local office of The Miller Hull Partnership, IDEA1 mixes uses to encourage interaction between occupants of this block and the community. The project design supports an innovation ecosystem.

IDEA1 is designed to attract the best and brightest by offering an urban, walkable community rich in amenities, along with an environment that connects, inspires and generates innovative ideas.

The residential component provides studios and one-bedroom units aimed at young entrepreneurs, creatives, recent grads and other young professionals working in Downtown. It connects to commercial components and has a large interior courtyard designed to encourage interaction and idea-sharing.


Called The Hub, the large courtyard (pictured) is also accessible from the surrounding streets and an adjacent park. This flexible events space is envisioned as a community mixing pot to connect diverse inhabitants and a staging area for creativity and generation of ideas. It will host various community events—both planned and spontaneous.


A curated mix of retail tenants will provide physical and social settings that encourage collaboration between the diverse inhabitants. For example, a craft beer pub featuring live music could become the local “watering hole,” or a maker space that enables quick prototyping of new ideas.

Hear more from Mike and other Downtown developers and stakeholders at Bisnow’s San Diego 3rd Annual Evolution of Downtown on May 18, beginning at 7:30am with breakfast and networking at the Westin San Diego, 400 W Broadway. Sign up here!