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Daily Business Report — Nov. 16, 2009

San Diego Postmaster Recommends Post Office Closures

The San Diego postmaster is recommending that post offices in North Park and Golden Hill be closed, a decision that Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) says she will fight to reverse. “I am disappointed,” said Davis. “I look forward to making our case to the U.S. Postmaster. This is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The economy will improve and business will pick up for the United States Postal Service.”

Davis said the targeted communities will be permanently affected by the two possible closures. “These offices won’t reopen when the mail volume increases for the USPS,” she said. “These offices are an integral part of the community. If they were to close, it would have a significant impact on the neighborhoods.”

Davis said she has received more than 100 calls, letters and e-mails about the potential closures.

Construction Begins on Desalination Plant

Construction has begun on the Carlsbad Desalination Plant aftr 11 years of planning and permitting. The plant is the first large-scale desalination facility in California to reach the construction phase of development.  Construction of the 50 Million Gallon per Day (MGD) desalination facility is scheduled to extend 24 months with an additional six months allotted for full-scale operational testing.  The facility, which will be the largest in the western hemisphere, is scheduled to be operational and delivering drinking water throughout San Diego County before the end of 2012. “It’s been a long and rewarding process, during which we met and overcame every challenge that one would expect when developing a major water supply project,” said Poseidon Resources’ Senior Vice President Peter MacLaggan. “This historic accomplishment would not have been possible without the support of a myriad of individuals and organizations that tirelessly fought to ensure that sound science and the public interest prevailed. When we are finished, San Diego will be home to the most technologically advanced, energy efficient and environmentally-sound seawater desalination plant in the western hemisphere.”

The Phase I construction activities include demolishing and removing existing oil and diesel storage tanks and other structures, a wastewater treatment facility and above- and below-ground piping throughout the site.  Poseidon also is installing construction fencing, surveying and removing any hydrocarbon-related materials, surveying and removing any asbestos containing materials, relocating electrical and mechanical equipment, and conducting any soil remediation.

Poseidon also is installing and constructing certain stormwater pollution prevention measures. The California Coastal Commission issued the project’s Coastal Development Permit and authorized project construction on Nov. 3.

Since 1998, Poseidon Resources has been working in a public-private partnership with the city of Carlsbad to construct the seawater desalination plant at the site of the Encina Power Plant. Once operational, the Carlsbad desalination plant will provide enough drinking water to serve 300,000 residents (112,000 homes) annually at a guaranteed price.

Single-Family and Attached Home Sales Rise

Both single-family and attached home sales in San Diego County rose about 7 percent over September, and are up nearly 18 percent from the same period of last year, the San Diego Associated of Realtors reported. Sales volume for single-family homes increased more than 5 percent from September, and nearly 13 percent for attached homes.  

Although median sales prices dipped slightly, the median prices in October did not change significantly from September, and, in a promising sign, are still up more than 4 percent from this time last year.

“Much of this upward trend can be attributed to the availability of the home buyer tax credit,” said SDAR President Erik Weichelt. “Since its inception earlier this year, the tax credit has brought 1.2 million new buyers into the market nationwide. In California, nearly 40 percent of first-time home buyers reported they would not have purchased a home without the tax credit. We are delighted that Congress and the president heeded the call to extend and expand this important benefit that increases homeownership.”  

 Here are highlights of the statistics:

Total Sold Listings Comparing October 2009 to September 2009

• Detached: 7.1 percent increase

October 2009 = 1,877

September 2009 = 1,753

• Attached: 6.7 percent increase

October 2009 = 1,029

September 2009 = 964

Median Sales Price Comparing October 2009 to September 2009

•  Detached:  1.2 percent decrease

October 2009 = $380,000

September 2009 = $384,000

• Attached: 2.5 percent increase

October 2009 = $210,000

September 2009 = $204,950

Total Sales Volume Comparing October 2009 to September 2009

• Detached: 5.5 percent increase

October 2009 = $901,947,187

September 2009 = $855,135,844

• Attached: 12.9 percent increase

October 2009 = $289,902,935

September 2009 = $256,682,808

Kearny Mesa Office Building Purchased

James T. Ferguson, Philip J. Pape and Andrew S. Darragh, owners of Ferguson Pape Baldwin Architects Inc., have purchased a three-story office building at 4499 Ruffin Road in Kearny Mesa — a short sale — for $2.85 million. The buyers were represented by Barry Mahlberg and Kevin Farrell of Cushman & Wakefield. The seller, 780 A La Brea, LLC, was represented by Scott Kincaid, Tyler Gossett and Matt Pourcho of CB Richard Ellis.

Ferguson Pape Baldwin Architects, an architectural, planning and interior design firm in operation since 1976, will relocate from its current location at 701 B St. Downtown to its new space, a 19,398-square-foot office building, in March 2010. “We had been in search of a quality office building in a central location with readily available free parking for more than a year,” said Philip Pape, vice president and principal with Ferguson Pape Baldwin Architects. “We saw the value in owning our own building and elected to put in an aggressive offer for the property as it delivered our ‘wish list’ and brought the aesthetic appeal that reflects our corporate identity. In addition, the building offered us the opportunity to add our design elements and concepts that would act as a showroom for our talents.” Pape said the firm is in the early stages of planning renovations, but may work towards LEED Commercial Interiors certification, which would include updating the mechanical systems to increase energy efficiency as well as utilizing renewable products that help to create a healthy, positive work environment.

The firm will occupy more than 9,800 square feet of the building (floors two and three). Ferguson Pape Baldwin will offer 9,500 square feet of the building for lease with space options ranging from 1,000 square feet up to 6,500 square feet.. Future tenants of the building will have access to conference and break room facilities.

Ferguson Pape Baldwin Architects is working with C.W. Driver on its tenant improvements.

County to Auction Hundreds of Items on Nov. 21

Cars, jewelry and hundreds of other items will be up for bid during the county’s auction Nov. 21 at the County Operations Annex at 5201-A Ruffin Road in Kearny Mesa. View of the items is at 8 a.m. followed by the start of bidding at 8:30 a.m. The auction will feature items from several Superior Court-appointed decedent and conservatorship estates managed by the county. Customers are required to pay for and pick up their property by 2 p.m. the same day. Photos of items for sale can be seen online at

For additional information about items available for sale and auction dates, call (858) 694-3500.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Adds executives

Sharon Smith and Gail Sullivan have joined the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego as vice president of development giving and chief financial officer, respectively. Smith will head up the RMHCSD capital campaign, major gift giving, special event fundraising efforts and collateral materials development. Smith previously served as vice president of development for the San Diego Museum of Man for three years. She has more than 19 years of fundraising experience. Sullivan, who has 20 years of financial management experience and is a certified public accountant, will oversee all financial operations for RMHCSD, including accounting, budgeting and financial planning. Previously, Sullivan worked with companies such as Nth Generation Computing, Harbor Packaging Inc. and Thefeld & Associates CPAs.

Scripps Chula Vista Health Fair Set for Nov. 21

The Scripps Chula Vista Health Fair will be held Nov. 21 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Otay Ranch Town Center, 2015 Birch Road, Chula Vista. Attendees will have the opportunity to receive health screenings (blood pressure and body fat), partake in diabetes education and gather information about services at Scripps Home Health Care, Scripps Mercy Hospital and Scripps Coastal Medical Center. Health experts will be on-hand to answer questions. New in the South County is Scripps Coastal Medical Center’s Eastlake location, which opened in 2008. This new location offers primary care physicians specializing in family and internal medicine, and pediatrics with extended office hours on Saturdays. This location is currently accepting new patients.

Thanksgiving Day Run for the Hungry

Jewish Family Service and the San Diego Food Bank have teamed this year for the Thanksgiving Day Run for the Hungry. the 10K and 5K run and walk will be Nov. 26 starting at Petco Park in Downtown San Diego and making its way through the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village. Proceeds from the event directly benefit the hungry in San Diego County through the Foodmobile, a program of Jewish Family Service of San Diego, and the San Diego Food Bank. About 4,500 participants are expected to run and walk in the event. To register online, visit For more information, call (619) 298-7400.

Pacific Beacon Home to More than 1,800 Sailors

More than 1,800 sailors observed their first Veterans Day at the Pacific Beacon Bachelor’s Enlisted Quarters, the first privatized single’s quarters ever built for the Department of Defense. The high-rises at Naval Base San Diego were developed by Pacific Beacon LLC, a joint venture between Clark Realty Capital and the Navy. The design builders were Clark Construction Group and Clark Realty Builders. The concrete portion of the project was built by Morley Construction. It has rooftop lounges with barbecues and fire pits, a Sky Terrace with heated pool and hot tub and views of the harbor. Many of the unmarried sailors were stationed on ships in San Diego Harbor before Pacific Beach opened, but now they occupy 941 furnished dual master suites. In order to house as many sailors as possible, as soon as possible, three 18-story towers were erected at the Naval Base San Diego over a 15-month period. The accelerated construction timeline involved more than 700 workers in the field.

“The size of this job was huge from a concrete perspective,” said Brian Daniel, Morley’s project manager. “In order to meet the tight construction schedule we had to form more than 40,000 square feet of elevated deck every week. Instead of letting this project become daunting, the graphic schedules allowed us to break the towers down into pieces. It became like a manufacturing process, where everyday we knew where we had to be and what we had to do.” Morley was responsible for forming, placing and finishing all 54 floors of the towers, totaling 1.1 million square feet of usable space.  Daniel believed the close relationship and open communication Morley had with the project’s general contractor, Clark Construction, greatly contributed to the project’s success.

The names of Pacific Beacon’s three towers are significant to the San Diego Naval community. The towers are named in honor of Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz and Thomas Retzer — three Navy SEALs who lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan.

2009 Orchids & Onions Winners Announced

Sam ChammasThe Station Tavern in South Park was the Grand Orchid winner in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2009 Orchids & Onions Awards program held last week. The judges said of the Tavern: “Flawless! Perhaps an odd thing to say when we’re talking about a small building that aims to be a good dive bar, but in The Station it’s possible to see how history can be respected and strategies can be created that are nimble enough to make architecture on a small budget and without predetermined forms.’’

Vantage Pointe was the recipient of the Grand Onion Award. Said the judges: “Every so often a building comes along that presents a paradoxical image to the city in which it lands. Vantage Pointe to some degree is the usual massive condominium tower with all the architectural distinction that goes with it. Unfortunately, Vantage Pointe provides a severe disservice to the city life where it meets the street.”

Following is a list of other Orchids & Onion winners and judges’ comments:

People’s Choice Orchid: ResMed

“Every once in a while you have to look beyond the immediate noise of the city to find a gem in the rough. Well, the people have searched through our nominations and found that gem in the San Diego business parks between Montgomery Field and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

New Roots Community Farm (Special Jury Recognition)

“Located on a small 2.5-acre lot in City Heights, a grass roots effort has finally taken hold to create San Diego’s first community farm. One juror noted ‘Kudos to the groups’ collective perseverance in spending three years and over $50K in city of San Diego required permits and processing to get this project out of the ground.’”

MXD830 (Architecture)

“Mike Burnett’s MXD830 carries forward the San Diego‐centric architect/developer paradigm with economy, sensitivity and pizzazz. Wrote one juror, ‘It shows a sophisticated use of materials and of references to historic architectural moments,’ while another simply wrote, ‘This is modern urbanism at its best.’”

Starlite (Interior Design)

“Starlite, designed by Bells & Whistles, is one of San Diego’s most custom interiors with the designers/ builders having their hand in all aspects of creating the space. Passing through a hexagonal Ipe slatted tunnel, patrons are presented with a concert of contrasting materials in play with each other.”

Art Produce (Public Art)

“While it generated spirited debate over what, exactly, defines the ‘public’ aspect in public art, the jury found that owner/artist Lynn Susholtz and ArtProduce made crucial contributions to the visual and social quality of life in the North Park neighborhood. Another commented, ‘Art Produce does much more than a sculpture sitting in the middle of a plaza … It’s a provocation: to think about art in the community.’”

Hamilton Children’s Garden (Landscape Architecture)

“Just having opened on June 13 this year, the Hamilton Children’s Garden explodes with interpretive activities that keep kids’ imaginations roaring in high gear. This team of incredibly creative and talented designers have really gone above and beyond and re‐defined what a children’s garden should be.”

Point Loma Marina at America’s Cup Harbor (Architecture)

“Imagine strolling America’s Cup Harbor promenade, enjoying the warm sun, cool breeze, and the shimmering waters of the bay and encountering this newest development. The architecture gracefully embraces the water’s edge and provides an opportunity to marvel the architect’s great attention to detail.”

Gateway Intermodal Transportation Center (Planning Policies)

“While the concept of an intermodal transportation center adjacent to the airport has been floated before, this year’s jury felt it was very essential to remind the Port Authority of the critical need for such a project. One jury member put it simply
, ‘This is BIG THINKING that San Diego needs.’”

1906 Lodge Coronado (Historic Preservation)

“This Irving Gill and William Hebbard designed boarding house has been brought back to life as a 17-room boutique hotel. The jury was pleased to see this
commitment to preservation, showing ‘how past and present can co‐exist.’”

Woodbury School of Design (Architecture)

“Rinehart‐Herbst took a vacant building once considered a blight on the neighborhood of Barrio Logan and transformed it into a vibrant urban campus. They say location is everything; Woodbury is a standout in the budding revitalization of Barrio Logan. It is a statement of thoughtful understated design both complimentary to and enhanced by the cultural charm of the area.”

Euclid Tower – City Heights (Historic Preservation)

“Originally constructed in 1932 as part of a drive‐in soda fountain, the Art Deco Euclid Tower had become City Heights’ most recognizable landmark. A 1995 community driven public art project added multicultural colors and designs, but the 80‐foot tall tower was structurally unsound and much to the community’s dismay, city inspectors ordered it torn down in 1999. The jury felt that bringing the tower back was important both historically and culturally for the City Heights community.”

Bacon Street Offices (Sustainable Design)

“This former auto‐repair shop turned architects office proves good things do come in small packages. Located in the eclectic neighborhood of Ocean Beach, this project designed and owned by Architects Hanna Gabriel Wells has shown the community that you can give back to the earth and still thrive as a business.”

Robert Paine Scripps Forum (Architecture)

“Located south of the pier at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography, this state of the art teaching and conference center is an unimposing and relaxed retreat where the brightest minds can gather to tackle our planet’s greatest scientific challenges. Despite multiple rounds of ‘value‐engineering’ and nearly 10 years in planning and construction, this privately funded and LEED-certified project is an admirable addition to the Scripps campus.”

High Tech High Chula Vista (Sustainable Design)

“Awarding an orchid to High Tech High in the Sustainability category posed an agonizing quandary for jurors. The building itself is exemplary: abundant daylighting, photovoltaic solar energy, optimized energy systems, and an anticipated LEED Gold Rating are just a few of the school’s distinctions. Yet the jurors found its suburban fringe location underscored the inherently unsustainable land‐use pattern of suburban, car‐dependent transportation. In granting this particular orchid, jurors decided that the good architecture and sustainable design trumped old-fashioned land use policies.”

Official Onions of 2009

People’s Choice Onion: Jamul Casino

“A peaceful drive on the 94 takes one past the hustle and bustle of the city and into the countryside where two-story homes are the norm… for now.  On the darker side of this small community, a fierce battle rages on between the citizens who want to maintain their quality of life and the monster of increased traffic they fear to be the inevitable side effect of their potential neighbor.”

SDG&E Utility Boxes (Special Jury Recognition)

“Like a plague on the city streets, one can never escape the ever present SDG&E Utility Box. Oddly enough, while the utility cans really don’t fit the environment they in which they exist, the public has been trained to accept them into their neighborhoods.”

Uptown Interim Height Ordinance (Planning Policies)

“In studying both sides of the argument, the jury felt the swift implementation of this ‘back door’ brokered ordinance was done without planning protocol, proper public hearings or any real research into either the short term or long term consequences of the action. Lets get a proper update of our Community Plan shall we?”

The Plaza UTC Landscape Retrofit (Landscape Architecture)

“Irvine Companies purchased two large blocks in the Golden Triangle area right across from UTC Mall. During these drought conditions they revamped their landscape to have even more grass put in than before! The jury has weighed in: this project’s landscape improvements are viewed as a blatant disregard for good design & water conservation.”

Ryan Aeronautics (Historic Preservation)

“This important historic district is a key part of San Diego’s aviation heritage, yet the San Diego Unified Port District has elected to demolish it. T. Claude Ryan constructed the first buildings at Lindbergh Field in 1932 only a few years after he designed and built “The Spirit of St. Louis.” The Port District is failing to incorporate these easily adaptable buildings into future development, preferring to simply tear them down.”

Mission Florence (Architecture)

“The bulk and scale of Mission Florence crushes its Washington Street intersection like an 800 pound stucco gorilla. The designers appeared to have thrown in every piece of architectural styrofoam they could find to disguise this clumsy creation.”

Grossmont Medical Terrace Parking Structure (Architecture)

“This is an example of ‘form follows nothing.’ The nominator called this new multi‐level parking structure ‘a hideous scar on the landscape.’ A blogger noted that at night it’s even worse, ‘exploding into an all encompassing beacon of horror that invades the valley in every direction.’”

Escondido Police & Fire Building (Architecture)

“The Escondido Police and Fire Headquarters is presented here as another missed attempt at using architecture to engage a community. Instead the building decided to present another blank wall in what can be described as conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

The Daily Business Report

The Daily Business Report is a product of REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan magazine and the North Park News. Our offices are in Cabrillo Plaza, 3990 Old Town Ave., Suite A-201, in Old Town. To reach editorial, call (619) 906-4104. For advertising, dial (619) 906-4105. The fax is (619) 906-4106. Send editorial material via e-mail to For advertising, send to

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Voice Your Opinion

We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: