By Carolyn Weber.
Photo: Coutesy CCDC/Skip Jurus

Back in 1975 the suburbs were booming, and no one would even consider dining out in dilapidated downtown San Diego, much less living there. But thanks to the Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC), an initiative started by then-mayor Pete Wilson, and $2.9 billion of private investment and $445 million of public money, downtown San Diego is back. In the last 27 years, 6,246 new housing units have been built downtown. Another 9,000 are in the pipeline for the next three to five years, and that represents one-third of all new housing in the city of San Diego. Approximately 20,000 people now live in the city's core, and the CCDC predicts that number will more than double by 2025. "We're seeing a definite shift in lifestyle," says Derek Danzinger, communications manager for the CCDC. "People are adopting an East Coast mentality and trading in cars for the convenience of walking to local attractions."

San Diego's stunning waterfront location and proximity to Balboa Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, are its primary assets. It is also a hub for several types of mass transit, arts and entertainment, and shopping. The new ballpark for the Padres, which will be ready for opening day 2004, has catalyzed the East Village area of downtown. Just across from the convention center, this area provides the most opportunity for developers.

The residential component of the revitalization includes an eclectic array of buildings that includes high-rises, mid-rises, lofts, townhouses, live/work spaces, and SRO units. The mix of unit types is attracting a wide demographic that includes singles, young couples, and a large number of empty-nesters.