Between 8th and 9th avenues and J Street downtown, there’s an empty space on the bottom floor of the TR Produce Building.

Jason Kulpa, CEO of Underground Elephant, an enterprise software company that provides companies a platform to generate sales leads, wants to put his 85 employees — and many more he wants to hire — there, but the city won’t let him. The issue: He doesn’t sell food or beer.

He will need special permission, and that will take time.

Downtown boosters have been talking up the city’s central core as a garden where tech companies should plant their seeds. But Underground Elephant’s struggle to move into an attractive, funky space is one angle on a bigger problem with that dream: Downtown doesn’t have the space or the old buildings that seem to have captured young entrepreneurs’ imaginations.

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In fact, Class A office space in general has suddenly become a limited commodity throughout the city’s urban core.

At the same time, a much-anticipated project on the frontier of East Village gentrification, the IDEA District, promises to solve a lot of this. But it needs tenants to persuade lenders to pay for construction. It’s finding it hard to get tenants to sign up.

There’s a run on funky office spaces.

Landlords love restaurants and so does the city.

The city collects sales tax from restaurants. The city also wants to create foot traffic and a sense of community on once barren or scary streets.

If they have a good location and can find a restaurant to lease it, landlords often can collect not just rent but everything else it costs to own a building — the restaurants pay utilities, janitorial and other fees.

But an economy can only take so many restaurants and East Village, with very few major employers and many restaurants, seems to have hit its limit. Sempra is building its own corporate headquarters nearby and that may have an impact.

So places like the TR Produce Building remain vacant on the ground floor.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson
The TR Produce Building downtown.

At the same time, this area around the ballpark has become an attractive place to some entrepreneurs.

Jason Hughes, CEO of Hughes Marino, a commercial tenant representation firm, said everyone wants to be in a creative, funky office space fashioned out of an older building.

“There are a couple odds and ends here and there but they have giant price tags because they’re looking for bars and restaurants that will pay it,” Hughes said. (Full disclosure: Hughes Marino is a sponsor of Voice of San Diego, and my wife works for the firm.)

“I keep hearing experts talk about all this tech moving to East Village, but the reality is that there’s very little product,” Hughes said.

So that leaves those vacant retail spots.

And it was one of those that caught Kulpa’s eye. Underground Elephant just signed a big contract with Allstate Insurance and plans to grow to 200 employees.

Kulpa managed to make a deal with the landlord of the space on J Street.

One of the parcels Kulpa wanted was already leased to Walmart, which had planned an urban store but ditched the idea. So Kulpa made a deal to sublease that from the retail giant as well.

He methodically put it all together.

But none of that was harder than the deal he has to make with the city.

The downtown community plan calls for retail in that space. Permitting is managed by Civic San Diego, the agency that used to be known as the Centre City Development Corp. Getting an exception — a so-called conditional-use permit — requires several approvals and a public hearing. If those approvals are appealed, it means further delays. The stress has led Kulpa to threaten to move the whole company to Austin or San Francisco.

“We need to be in a space that’s desirable for young talent. We’re in need of software engineers and they’re very hard to find in San Diego. The new office will help, but Civic San Diego is putting up the roadblock with these ancient processes,” said Stacy Mendes, the Underground Elephant manager in charge of the move.

The approval isn’t guaranteed. Laura Garrett is chair of the Downtown Community Planning Group, which gets first say on Underground Elephant’s request. If her group isn’t happy with it, it won’t be able to kill the permit but it wouldn’t be helpful.

“I understand not wanting a sterile cubicle farm in a high-rise, but I’m surprised/disappointed there aren’t other options for them,” Garrett told me in an email.

Andy Taylor, a commercial broker with CBRE, had to recently manage a similar issue with his client, Red Door Interactive. Red Door (whose CEO, Reid Carr, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors) wanted to move into the ground floor of the DiamondView Tower, right here next to the ballpark.

The city wouldn’t let it happen unless Red Door left part of the space open for retail.

That retail space is still vacant. BumbleBee Tuna just moved its headquarters into the old Showley Candy Factory building at Petco Park — a space that was also designated for retail. Yes, BumbleBee had to get special permits.

Taylor said the run on these creative spaces is fierce.

“They want to be in a space that’s rehabbed for them but there’s not a lot of landlords who can make that happen — put a boatload of money into a building and then command a high enough price to make sure it makes sense,” Taylor said.

As for Underground Elephant, a representative for the mayor’s office told me it would be five to 10 weeks before the company knows whether it can move.

Everyone from the mayor’s staff to Civic San Diego and the San Diego Downtown Partnership assured me this should be seen as fast in the world of city permit approvals.

There’s no room downtown for tech.

In its Imagine Downtown vision, the San Diego Downtown Partnership proclaimed that downtown had to blossom into a tech cluster.

“While the San Diego region has long been known as a hotbed of innovation, we must begin to forge a tech startup culture to Downtown,” the document reads. “Our urban center is the best place to provide the concentration and community needed to build a thriving tech ecosystem … ”

In an email, Kris Michell, CEO of the Downtown Partnership, said she felt like Civic San Diego was going to approve Underground Elephant’s move and that downtown property owners are thinking up new spaces to attract tech companies.

“In the short term, we need to look at non-traditional spaces such as the old downtown library and work to turn them into viable, low-cost co-working spaces like those that exist in other cities,” she wrote.

Hughes sees a bigger problem and he said he thinks a vibrant East Village, apart from the area immediately around Petco Park, is still a decade away.

“Unfortunately, downtown doesn’t have lots of cool old-building options like San Francisco and other cities. We have very little product – and out of that small inventory – even less of it is any good,” Hughes said.

The real story, Hughes said, is in the disappearance of Class A office space, the nicest spaces in the best locations.

Hughes provided this sampling on downtown Class A space.

Symphony Towers, 750 B St.: currently 5.3 percent vacant (and many of the vacant suites are in active lease negotiations). In 2011, 2012, and 2013, this building was 36.3 percent, 25.0 percent and 13.5 percent vacant, respectively.

One America Plaza, 600 West Broadway: currently 15.7 percent vacant. The Department of Justice is in final lease negotiations to take six floors. That would reduce the vacancy rate to under 3 percent.

DiamondView Tower, 350 10th Ave.: currently 7.8 percent vacant and there are only two options available, aside from the ground-floor retail space. Rates are the highest in downtown.

Wells Fargo Plaza, 401 B St.: currently listed at 11.6 percent vacant, but there are negotiations on vacant suites in the building, bringing the “real” vacancy rate closer to 9 percent.

Koll Center, 501 West Broadway: currently listed at 4.4 percent vacant – but within the next 30 days, that vacancy rate will likely drop to less than 3 percent.

Hughes’ rival, Jones Lang LaSalle, reports a 12.7 percent vacancy rate for Class A space downtown.

The Downtown Partnership points to successes in the effort to provide work spaces for startups and technologists — places like the startup incubator EvoNexus and the open workspace Co-Merge. (Co-Merge has also been a sponsor and partner of Voice of San Diego.)

But Underground Elephant and Red Door Interactive are not startups just clawing their way into a market or proving a new technology. They’re not hunting for a place to make some calls.

They are now established companies with reliable revenue.

They’re the type of places the IDEA District is trying to attract.

Correction: They’re the type of company’s the IDEA District needs to attract. So far, it has failed.

What is the IDEA District?

Besides the dormant Navy Broadway project, no dreamy commercial development effort has been as talked-about as the IDEA District.

You know this guy:

Photo courtesy SD Metro
Photo courtesy SD Metro

That’s Jerry Navarra, of Jerome’s Furniture, and his son. His family has long owned land in what is being called Upper East Village. The IDEA District is basically just an idea to turn this into great work spaces and a walkable, exciting place.

Here’s the area they’re talking about.

Images courtesy of IDEA District
Images courtesy of IDEA District

And what they hope it will look like in a few years.


It’s an idea packaged as a warning.

“In the race for talent, San Diego has to work harder at growing an urban environment that has it all or we are going to have a difficult time maintaining, much less growing, the jobs and prosperity of our region,” the promotional site explains.

Yikes. (I was gratified to see they include media among the disciplines that fit in a “technology and design cluster.” Others eligible include product design, industrial design, advanced engineering, medical wireless, infographics, biomimetic design, graphic design, video gaming, 2-D to 3-D animation and post production.)

Actually, it’s a design and development plan for about 60,000 square feet.

The IDEA District is banking on the same thing the Downtown Partnership is hoping for: one big company to move in. The Downtown Partnership’s surveyed thousands of people and held several meetings to produce a vision document. Getting this big company to plant its flag downtown is crucial, the document says.

“Attracting a major, well-known tech tenant in Downtown will serve as an ‘anchor’ for other companies to follow, grow and prosper,” it says.

And the IDEA District is no less insistent on that:

“The single most significant catalyst will be the move of a major design+technology company into the District. Once a highly respected company takes a significant chunk of creative office space, many satellite businesses will follow,” the site says.

Whether it is this type of company or a bundle of others, someone has to sign up for the IDEA District to get started.

“A very large tenant is going to have to come in and pay some of the highest office rates in San Diego County to be in East Village,” Taylor told me.

And that isn’t likely, said Hughes.

“They’re trying to kick off mixed use in the Idea District and Maker’s Quarter but they’re having a hell of a time finding tenants. It’s still a bit of a no-man’s land out there,” Hughes said. His heart is elsewhere right now (to the west, more specifically). He just announced he has tenants lined up for the beleaguered Navy Broadway project being developed by Doug Manchester, the owner of U-T San Diego.

The skepticism about East Village is familiar to Frank Wolden. Wolden is an urban designer and principal at Skyport Studio, who’s helped develop downtown for several decades.

“I can remember 15 years ago when the attitude expressed to me was that you will never see anything develop east of 6th Avenue,” Wolden said. “This area of East Village is not unlike what the Marina area and Horton Plaza were like before those areas saw improvements. It was hard to imagine how those would work but they did.”

One of the guys trying to make the IDEA District happen is David Malmuth. He says things are going great. They plan to announce a tenant soon for 6,000 square feet, about 10 percent of what’s available.

Malmuth and his partners need tenants to sign on so that they can get financing to start construction. He says he’ll lock down all the financing in the next 30 days.

“In order to become a cluster for technology and design-oriented companies, we need more creative office space,” Malmuth said. “We’re seeing nothing but support. Now it’s up to us to find those tenants looking for a great culture.”

When I asked whether Malmuth faced a deadline, a do-or-die moment when he might have to fold without going forward, he said no. It was going forward, he assured me.

The IDEA District is just an idea. There’s no subsidy to entice businesses to move there. In fact, just the opposite: It will be expensive. There’s no centerpiece attraction, like the ballpark or waterfront.

If downtown is to become the tech hub its leaders say it must be, that idea will have to be enough. Otherwise, companies like Underground Elephant will keep trying to take spaces the city wants for restaurants until they’re all gone.

    This article relates to: Business, Civic San Diego, Growth and Housing, Land Use, News, Share

    Written by Scott Lewis

    I'm Scott Lewis, the editor in chief of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it's a blast!): @vosdscott.

    bgetzel subscriber

    City planning must be done with a look to the future. if you want a lively, pedestrian oriented downtown, you may have to put up with vacant space zoned for restaurants and retail for awhile. A lot of office space at ground level is death for a downtown. Again, look at Houston.

    ZachW subscriber

    I'm new here, I'm liberal but I'm in favor of smart growth that will benefit our city's future.

    Why do I get the impression some of these commenters up in here want to welcome Cliven Bundy and his supporters to bring his cattle on down to Balboa Park to graze. For free.

    Let's play "how backwards can we make this town".

    Ian D. Miller
    Ian D. Miller subscriber

    @ZachW  I don't think it's that black and white.  I think we're talking about the fact that it shouldn't take San Diego 10 weeks to consider swapping a commercial tenant (tech startup) for a retail one.  We want a good mix of businesses and residential downtown and we need to make it easier for a startup to set up shop downtown by making the approval process smoother.

    Do we need to be prudent about our growth?  Absolutely.

    Does a slow and hard-to-navigate process for making exceptions and getting approvals make us prudent?  No way.

    Look at how long it took to get urban gardening changes approved by the City Council.  The people who are in charge of these processes are generally resistant to change, for better or worse.  But unless we make some much needed to changes, we will continue to lose new business like software startups (that typically treats its workers very well, brings more taxable revenue back into the city and is often a better steward of the environment and community than bigger, older businesses).


    @vosdscott @SD_DCPC voted strongly in favor of CUP. Very supportive of biz. Just concerned abt impact to ped experience & comm. plan vision.

    Blair Giesen
    Blair Giesen author

    @SDRegionalEDC Challenge accepted :-)

    bgetzel subscriber

    It is reasonable to ask why do these tech firms need ground level space. While the restaurant and retail demand may not be high today, it will be as the downtown residential population grows. Zoning for an interesting ground level environment for pedestrians is smart. One only needs to look at the ugly, blank wall environment of downtown Houston to see what ground level office space does to a city.Ultimately, if the demand for office space is there, new buildings will get built. Scott should have looked into the amount of available downtown commercial land to see if we are incorrectly zoned..

    ZachW subscriber

    The TR ground-level space has been vacant for many years.

    Sure, in a perfect scenario restaurant/retail space would be preferred there, but if the choice is a business or boarded up abandoned building then I choose business.

    Give them a 5 year lease and if restaurants are interested in 5 years don't renew it.


    bgetzel subscriber

    @ZachW  City planning needs to be done with a vision to what you want your city to ultimately be. Sure, there may be vacant space for awhile if you want restaurants and retail. But, if you envision a growing, pedestrian oriented city, you do not want a lot of office space at ground level. 

    Ian D. Miller
    Ian D. Miller subscriber

    @bgetzel @ZachW  Office space doesn't necessarily mean "blank wall."  We have plenty of businesses downtown that have big windows to the street so people can see the work going on inside and get the sense that downtown is a thriving place to be.

    Zach hit it on the head: 5 years is a significant amount of time.  If retail were to happen it would have, and a lease restriction opens the possibility up again in the future.

    We have to balance vision with reality.

    bgetzel subscriber

    Once the Ti's are in for office space, it is unlikely that it will later become a restaurant. Ground level office is as bad as a blank wall - watching people at desks or closed blinds gives nothing of interest to pedestrians. With several thousand units currently under construction downtown and the downtown projected to add 20,000 more residents by 2025, retail and restaurants will ultimately flourish.

    Blair Giesen
    Blair Giesen author

    For all the progress that the younger tech community is making in San Diego it would be be such a bummer if the city doesn't help clear a path for it to grow downtown. The startup tech community wants to be downtown. Projects like Maker's Quarter and I.D.E.A. District need to to help make it happen by supporting it much like The Irvine Company has helped attract tech startups. The Irvine Company is providing free space for startups in one of the most central downtown buildings as well as many co-working spaces downtown to encourage growth. Sure The Irvine company is somewhat self serving, but the startups are not obligated in any way to rent from Irvine Company when they are looking for new space.

    Ian D. Miller
    Ian D. Miller subscriber

    @Blair Giesen  Totally agree!  The Irvine Company project, EvoNexus, is novel in that it's got a free incubator and doesn't ask for equity or commitment post-incubation.  I'm a software developer and have been moving North with every job I take (UTC, Del Mar, Cardiff).  North County will continue to attract tech startups unless San Diego gets serious about attracting companies to set up in downtown.  I live in Taldmadge/College Area and would LOVE to work downtown.


    @vosdscott Liberty Station has the same issue. can't have traditional office space on ground floor of historic bldgs.


    @blockgreg @vosdscott In DT, historics are the 1 place where ground flr ofcs actually possible (by CUP), in areas slated 4 active commercial

    Erik Hanson
    Erik Hanson subscriber

    I'd like VOSD to report on why some non-profits are allowed to hog Downtown retail space and leave it empty. Just two examples near each other, on 5th Ave. Every since the New Palace Hotel was rebuilt after its fire, by  Mayor O'Conner's twin sister as senior housing, the storefronts have been empty and "for lease". None of them have ever had tenants. This has been way more than 20 years. What are their intentions, and what realtor is so stupid to have his sign up and fielding calls for 20+ years, when he knows that a deal will never be made. Or is this just free advertising for him for other locations on the front of a non-profit. Same thing with the St.Paul's Book and Media Center just to the south: abandoned for 20+ years, owned by the Catholic Church, don't they need the rent money for some charitable usage? 

    Pat Seaborg
    Pat Seaborg subscribermember

    I live downtown, and I do think the area is oversaturated with restaurants.  I see them going out of business on a regular basis and the spaces staying vacant.  For example, Red Pearl Kitchen at 4th and J went out of business Dec 2012 and is still vacant, despite a great location.

    Retail businesses are hard to pull off downtown, owing to high rent overhead.  With increased use of internet shopping, I just don't see much success in attracting future retail ventures downtown. 

    (Except for a future Trader Joes.  Build it, and we will come!)

    I hope the Powers that Be will be more flexible in approving different uses for empty downtown office/retail space.  Nothing makes a community more vibrant than filled ground floor businesses, as opposed to years of empty ground floor space.

    Brian Peterson
    Brian Peterson subscriber

    City planning and zoning is too restrictive and not just in downtown.Their policies are actively stifling business elsewhere.

    Two years ago we were looking for locations to relocate and expand our veterinary practice.  We found a location in sub-area C of the former Grantville redevelopment project area.  Our business plan would be mixed-use, and would include veterinary and other pet-related services.  The location was a former restaurant.

    Our realtor contacted the City about the zoning.  The word was the location was zoned for the prior use, other uses were very limited and definitely not veterinary or anything pet-related.  The planner informed the realtor the zoning was created by an earlier council person and was “carved in stone.”  We ultimately relocated to another space with a much smaller business plan and a smaller investment on our part.

    Today our first-choice location still sits empty.  Fewer local jobs were created.  And the total economic impact of our relocation is about one-fifth of what it could have been.

    By the way, as part of the Grantville community plan amendment, the City is looking to apply very restrictive zoning to our current location, which excludes practically any business use, especially veterinary.  But, they tell us our current use will be “grandfathered.”

    aberchtold subscriber

    Scott - it seems you wrote this story on Monday and failed to read the news on Tuesday -- IDEA 1 announced its first tenant this week, and is in talks with several other interested tenants for the launch of IDEA 1 in 2015.

    To your question Mr. Jones: "What is the need"?, respectfully - JOBS!, as well as an urban environment that is live/work.  Check out the reverse commute that happens every morning and every evening of young people who want to live downtown but work on the Mesa  - now imagine a walkable city, where young people don't have to get into cars and clog our freeways - but rather can walk or bike to work. 

    I don't think anyone views this project as "trying to be LA" -- far from it.   IDEA District is a bold vision that hopes to allow like-minded companies to congregate in an urban setting - providing opportunities for collaboration and inspiration.  

    Let's think BIG San Diego - and support initiatives that push this city forward.

    ZachW subscriber

    @Jim Jones

    with all do respect, you seem to be stuck in a different era. You don't seem to grasp the fact that today young educated professionals are more mobile than ever before.

    They don't want to live in the suburbs, they want to live in dynamic urban environments.

    They aren't tied to a specific place as much as in the past, they will go where the environment is more geared to their lifestyle even if it means moving away from where they grew up.

    You have this idea that San Diego as it exists now will appeal to these people, and you think they will flock to places like Sorrento Valley.

    I can tell you they won't.

    If we want to attract tech, our current suburban tech hubs will not attract the best candidates.

    We need something like the IDEA district.

    Jim Neri
    Jim Neri subscribermember

    I'm with Malmuth, things are going great!  There IS an I.D.E.A. District planned and it WILL be built because of the demand for it. It may not happen fast enough for some but it will happen.  The City is a bunch of rules created by us citizens, so those rules can be followed to allow more Bumblebees to keep the buzz going.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    @Andrew Malick  

    Companies will locate where it makes sense. If the availability and cost of downtown becomes too restrictive they will look elsewhere.

    The assumption here with most posters is that downtown is Mecca and the only real option.

    I guess If people and companies are willing to pay a p[remium for it it will be provided.

    On the other hand though If companies feel they can do better financially in out lying areas the tech growth will naturally evolve there.

    Andrew Malick
    Andrew Malick subscriber

    @Mark Giffin  Building office space downtown makes sense for two reasons. 

    1. Companies want to be where their workers live. 

    2. Building walkable office space is cheaper than widening freeways.

    BVBailey subscribermember

    Downtown needs another restaurant?

    wadams92101 subscriber

    “Unfortunately, downtown doesn’t have lots of cool old-building options like San Francisco and other cities” - - look around at all the recent surface parking lots. That's what's happening to our funky creatives spaces. What's worse, Civic San Diego and City Council are letting it happen in spite of clear rules and policies in the CCPDO and Community Plan against demolitions for surface parking lots. Please sign the petition: City of San Diego, Stop demolition for parking lots! . . .

    spoonman subscriber


    This city is schizophrenic. It can't decide if it wants to attract youth and innovation or scare it away. More and more I think there are two San Diego's.

    I am young (30's)  and am a huge supporter of growth, innovation, and urban development. On one hand our city supports this through support for things like IDEA, craft brewing, funding the trolley extension, etc. On the other hand, the city sits idle while businesses flee, and NIMBY's attack the trolley and mere 60ft buildings around trolley stations.

    The people that oppose those things seem to be aging boomers that believe that the city is a place frozen in time, and that it is an assault on their birthright to build anything within view of the house that they bought 50 years ago. These people do not see the city as something they are a part of, but instead their personal sanctuary.

    These NIMBY policies are directly responsible for the housing shortage, stagnated development, and the chasing away of young talent that wants affordable market-rate housing in a walkable dense, transit friendly city.

    I can't see how anyone could complain about a 60ft building. If I was Bill Fulton I would have proposed something much taller. Bottom line is that this city will not change, and projects like IDEA will not succeed if we are guided by the vocal NIMBY minority that thinks that San Diego is Santa Barbara and will aim to thwart development everywhere but a square mile downtown.

    I wish these obstructionists would retire and move out of town, or get out of the way. These selfish positions are ruining life for the next generation. I encourage that everyone that agrees with me to fight back and be louder than the opposition.

    spoonman subscriber

    @Jim Jones @spoonman San Diego is already very much like LA, but building higher density in the central areas of the SD will mitigate the long traffic filled commutes, which you associate with LA. Yes, it would add more people to these areas, but it would help preserve the far out suburbs.

    Too keep this city from stagnating, more housing is needed just to support the native populace. In fairness, where would you recommended building an area of high density housing (not sprawl) that is near transit, but does not affect your sensibilities?

    spoonman subscriber

    @Jim Jones @spoonman It seems funny that you think that density equals a soul-less city. On weekends, people choose to spend their time in places like Downtown, Little Italy, Balboa Park, and the beach cities which are some of the densest parts of the city.

    As others have said, your idea of what this city is and should be definitely differ from the views of others. That's certainly OK, but most would call the suburbs soul-less, not the other way around.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @spoonman Someday, each of us will be too old to drive. We should all hope for more transit and walkability. Those who oppose these things are being self destructive, but they won't realize it until they have lost the ability to drive, and that's a real tragedy.

    Grammie subscribermember

    @spoonman @Jim Jones  " most would call the suburbs soul-less".....perhaps the young, single, hedonistic crowd. I'd wager that the people who are raising families heave a sigh of relief when they escape the maddening crowds, to return to the relatively peaceful surroundings of the suburbs.

    spoonman subscriber

    @Jim Jones @spoonman In all seriousness, where do you want to put people? We either have to build in the backcountry, or add density.

    I concede that adding density adds people to an area and can create congestion, but developing the wilderness requires longer commutes, waste of fuel, destroys the natural environment, and causes much more systemic congestion (think of cars traveling 30 miles down the  freeways to work instead of 5). The problems that happened with the 15 freeway are evidence of this....people driving all the way to Temecula to find reasonably priced homes.

    ZachW subscriber

    (Duplicate comment, deleted)

    ZachW subscriber

    Hedonistic crowd?

    Give it to me Grammie!!

    I'd take the hedonists over the suburban "families" any day.

    I see more dysfunctional families, crack houses, drug dealing, cheating and scamming in the burbs of SD than in skid row downtown LA.

    You probably think that as long as a soccer mom has a good "doctor" to to sanction her prescription drug habit then she's so much better than the "hedonist" DT who buys it on the street, eh?

    spoonman subscriber

    @Jim Jones @spoonman You don't like the "sprawl" beaches, and you don't like downtown. Could you share what your utopian version of San Diego would look like if you had your druthers? I just want to understand what you value.

    -P subscriber

    @Grammie @spoonman @Jim Jones  Being someone who is currently raising a family, I can honestly say I like living in a where people take advantage of the fact that they are in a walkable neighborhood.

    ZachW subscriber

    Spoonman, they want anyone who is under 65 years old to move to LA or SF.

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    @Jim Jones Do you mean Sorrento Mesa? Why do you think that is a better location for tech growth?

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    @Jim Jones I think what people often misinterpret about the I.D.E.A. District is that this is not intended to replace a Sorrento Mesa tech hub, it's meant to compliment it. In the greater San Francisco Bay area there is the urban office area of San Francisco which has seen huge growth in their tech company community, and you have Silicon Valley as a suburban tech hub. San Diego already has it's suburban tech hub in Sorrento Mesa, but I believe the vision for I.D.E.A. district is to add an urban tech community to San Diego.

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    @Jim Jones You want me to explain the need of a project that intends to add a new jobs cluster? You see Sorrento Mesa as a better location for tech growth, and there are many people like you that share that sentiment. However Jim, this may be news to you, but there are people out there that are not like you. There are people that prefer an urban environment, in this case for tech companies. That is the purpose of this project, to cater to that unmet need.

    ZachW subscriber

    The need is clearly spelled-out in the article: young professionals don't want to work in suburban strip-mall business parks like Sorrento Valley.

    This is why Underground Elephant is willing to pay premium prices and battle the city for a permit to relocate to East Village.

    You seem to have a Golden Girls vision for San Diego that is stuck in the 80s.

    Times have changed, and there is a reverse migration by young educated professionals FROM the burbs TO urban cores.

    SD can choose to modernize and attract high paying jobs, or choose to not change and become the gigantic retirement community you see us as, but we can't become a tech hub just by saying "we want to become a tech hub". We need to make this a more desirable place to live for the talent required to sustain this industry.

    Erik Bruvold
    Erik Bruvold subscribermember

    @Joshua Brant @Jim Jones  Joshua, I keep hearing that.  I also think there is no data to underpin it.  What we DO have data on in San Diego is the fairly high percentage of foreign born immigrants with STEM degrees working in Tech in San Diego - many who originate from countries of origin that seem to have a high preference for suburban living with high quality schools and housing which works (and is large enough) for multi-generational families.  What I REALLY wish IDEA and Makers Quarter and others would do is get some good survey data on technology professionals who LIVE IN SAN DIEGO.  Way too much of this is being driven by anecdote and reading Wired.  We need to understand OUR technology-oriented workforce and understand if they are (or are not) different in preferences from their No Cal counterparts.

    PS.  One this we also do know is that there is a strong commuting pattern of 20 and 30 somethings from MB and PB up to Sorrento.  It could be that the "urban" living that is appealing to OUR 20 somethings isn't about cities and the urban core but funky CA beach communities that are close to the ocean.

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    @Jim JonesDo you find it ironic that you say there is no unmet need for this urban development, and in the same breath you say that there is a "crowd" that prefers density?

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    @Jim Jones So I misinterpreted your original inquiry about the need for the I.D.E.A. district? You weren't talking about lack of demand, you were talking about smart growth principles? I don't know if I buy that because you finished your last statement by circling back to your lack of vision regarding demand. So, therefor I do find it ironic that you pooh pooh the I.D.E.A. district because you say it lacks demand, and simultaneously complain about a crowd of people that want density.

    Developers get their money up front and retire in La Jolla? Is that like your plan to raise the minimum wage to $30 and give everyone a job? There is real risk along with reward in real estate development.