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It’s true that the building boom in East Village hasn’t included much office space, but that’s partly because the area has been transforming instead into a major educational hub.
Where are the offices and businesses planned for East Village? Voice of San Diego recently pointed out the dearth of office buildings being constructed in the quickly developing downtown neighborhood.
But the article missed one big component of East Village: education.
Yes, East Village has not yet become the office hub similar to University Town Center, or the research and development cluster in Sorrento Mesa – but that’s in part because something else is beginning to happen. The area is one of our region’s major educational clusters. You can go from preschool to post-graduate without ever leaving the neighborhood.
The South East Village Focus Plan – an unofficial document prepared by a group of downtown property owners, design professionals and residents – lists leveraging the academic vibe as its No. 2 goal for the area.
At the north end of East Village is the San Diego High School Educational Complex. The school has over 3,000 students.
To the south, across Russ Boulevard, is San Diego City College, with an enrollment of over 18,000 students. It is located on a campus that is continually expanding with new facilities and programs – over $500 million has been invested in the past five years. And with that expansion, City College has physically become even more a part of East Village.
The Urban Discovery Academy Charter School opened in 2014. Located at 14th and F streets, the charter school has a focus on individual student support and project-based learning.
The NewSchool of Architecture & Design is located at Park Boulevard and F Street, and it has an enrollment of over 500 students in programs in architecture, construction management, interior architecture and more.
Located at Park Boulevard and Island is the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The school, with an enrollment of over 500 law students, moved to its new facility in East Village several years ago.
At 10th and J streets is the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
And at 10th and K streets is the San Diego Global Knowledge University, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees.
An educational anchor at the south end of East Village is the Central Library, completed in 2013. A unique feature of the Central Library is the E3 Civic High School, a public charter school. The curriculum includes internships and offers two pre-professional programs; bio-medical health and digital media. Students graduate with both a high school diploma and a community college degree.
Since the South East Village Plan was published, UCSD has announced its plans to build an outpost at the corner of Market and Park Boulevard.
East Village is already well on its way to housing one of the region’s most exciting educational clusters. While there may not be a lot of office buildings planned, I believe the neighborhood will continue to grow and blossom into even more of an innovation hub, especially if city leaders embrace the South East Village Plan and actively work to recruit more educational innovators to the neighborhood.
Michael Stepner is a professor of architecture and urban design at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design.