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Daily Business Report — Nov. 17, 2009

Funding Authorized for New Downtown Courthouse

The State Public Works Board on Monday gave funding authorization for a new courthouse in Downtown San Diego — marking the official start of the courthouse construction project that will be managed by the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

The proposed project would replace three court buildings in Downtown: the County Courthouse, the Family Courthouse and the Madge Bradley Courthouse. The buildings are overcrowded, inadequate for modern court operations and significantly lacking in security features to current standards. It would provide the court’s central court district with a full-service, consolidated courthouse, housing 71 courtrooms in 704,000 square feet, for criminal, probate, family court, and small claims services.

The proposed project, with an estimated total cost of $660.1 million, is the largest to be funded by Senate Bill 1407. It was ranked as a “critical need” by the Judicial Council, making it among the highest priority capital-outlay projects for the judicial branch of California.

“Strengthening the physical foundation of our judicial system is more than a metaphor,” said Chief Justice Ronald M. George. “Courthouses are as vital a part of California’s infrastructure as bridges, highways, and water systems. It is time to adequately fund this fundamental component of the infrastructure of our democracy. Public safety and the interests of 38 million Californians require it.”

Both the city of San Diego and the county of San Diego are supporters of the development of the proposed new courthouse.

SB 1407 was enacted by the state Legislature last year to provide up to $5 billion in funding for 41 new and renovated court facilities using court user fees rather than the state’s general fund.

To initiate each SB 1407 project, the AOC seeks funding authorization from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee of the Legislature as well as the SPWB. This initial funding approval enables the AOC to proceed with site selection, which includes environmental assessment under CEQA, and preliminary plans, which is the initial portion of architectural design. The San Diego project is scheduled for completion by January 2016.

Miramar College Breaks Ground on $48.4 Million Center

San Diego Miramar College officials broke ground Monday on the $48.4 million Miramar College Library/Learning Resource Center, a three-story, 100,000-square-foot facility that will provide state-of-the-art art teaching and independent learning spaces. The facility will provide a new library, classrooms, computer labs, tutoring services, a media production facility and faculty and staff offices and work space. It is scheduled to be competed in September 2011.

The Resource Center will be flanked by the future Arts & Humanities and Business & Mathematics buildings, also funded as part of the San Diego Community College District’s $1.555 billion Propositions S and N construction bond program. The building is designed to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the United States Green Building Council and includes a number of sustainable features.

Last week, the SDCCD board of trustees approved bid contracts covering various aspects of construction of the new building, from concrete to steelwork to electrical plumbing. The ids came in under budget. The total budgeted cost for all 23 bid packages was $27,470,382. The total of the low bids was $19,011,545 —nearly $8.5 million under budget. Officials estimated that the building would generate at least 200 jobs for local contractors, subcontractors, specialty trades and others in addition to the 5,000 jobs generated by Propositions S and N projects over the past few years.

Apartment Completions Modest

Although a modest pace of apartment completions in the San Diego market should keep supply and demand from moving too far out of equilibrium through the rest of this year, property fundamentals have softened, according to a fourth-quarter Apartment Research Report by Marcus & Millichap, a real estate investment services firm. Employers have reduced payrolls in the metro for eight consecutive quarters, with additional losses expected during the next few months.

“Investment activity in San Diego has strengthened during the fourth quarter,” said Kent Williams, regional manager of the San Diego office of Marcus & Millichap. “Buyers are pursuing distressed assets as they come to market but are also making competitive offers on well-performing properties.”

Following are some of the most significant aspects of the San Diego Apartment Research Report:

• Following the loss of 24,900 workers in 2008, local employers are forecast to eliminate 50,800 jobs this year, a 4 percent contraction. Metrowide employment is expected to reach levels last recorded in 2003.

• In 2009, developers will complete 650 apartment units, down from 910 units last year and well below the metro’s five-year average of nearly 1,400 units annually.

• Metrowide vacancy is expected to increase 110 basis points to 5.2 percent this year, following a 40 basis point rise in 2008. Construction will likely accelerate in 2010, which could continue to drive the rate higher.

• This year will mark the first time in more than a decade that metrowide rents have declined. Asking rents are forecast to drop 2.5 percent to $1,310 per month, while effective rents will retreat 4.3 percent to $1,246 per month.

For a copy of the complete San Diego Apartment Research Report, visit marcusmillichap.com.

Bench/Bar/Media Lunch in North County

Join the North County Bar Association for the next Bench/Bar/Media lunch on Dec. 2. The 12:15 p.m. lunch will be held at the District Attorney’s Library on the fifth floor of the Superior Court’s North County Regional Center, 325 S. Melrose Drive in Vista. The program will feature a discussion of the obstacles reporters, attorneys and court personnel face in the light of court budget cuts and reduced access to courthouses. Lunch tickets are free, but RSVP by Nov. 27 to Mary Cervantes at (760) 758-5833 or Lynn Behymer at (760) 434-0940.

Best Best & Krieger Promotes Associates to Partner

Best Best & Krieger LLP promoted two associates to partners – one attorney known for her solar energy work and another one who serves as city attorney to two Northern California cities. The firm’s partners voted to admit Sophie A. Akins and Andrew J. Morris into the partnership effective Jan. 1. Akins works in the firm’s San Diego office; Morris in the Sacramento office. Akins, who joined the firm in 2001, is known for her legal work with solar energy projects, including several on school campuses and for water districts.  Morris, since joining the firm in 2003, has concentrated on land use and planning, cable television and telecommunications, and solid waste and recycling issues.

European Wax Center Leases Encinitas Space

European Wax Center leased 1,773 square feet of retail space at 272-B North El Camino Real in Encinitas. The five-year lease is valued at $303,661. Carrie Bobb of CB Richard Ellis represented European Wax Center. John Still and David Silverman of Flocke & Avoyer represented the lessor, Terramar Retail Centers LLC. European Wax Center has 58 franchises in development in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Florida, New York and New Jersey. The Encinitas lease is European Wax Center’s first San Diego County location.

Museum of Contemporary Art and UCSD in Partnership

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and UCSD have formed a partnership to expand student and faculty access to more than 8,000 visual art catalogues and related materials, and provide MCASD curatorial staff with access to the vast holdings of the UCSAD Libraries, the largest academic library system south of Los Angeles.
 
The transfer of art materials to UCSD will integrate access to these catalogues and other materials with all the resources — more than 7 million print and electronic items — of the UCSD Libraries.  Discussions leading to the partnership began in 2004 when Hugh M. Davies, the David C. Copley director of MCASD, approached Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UCSD.

City College Instructor Wins Leadership Award

San Diego City College math instructor Karon Klipple won the Green California Community College Summit Leadership Award in the category of Instructor for her work and creativity in making the college sustainability program an important part of the campus culture and environment. The Instructor award was one of five awards presented at the Green California Community College Summit in Pasadena earlier this month. Klipple helped develop several “green” projects on the City College campus. She is founder and director of Seeds at City – an urban farm that trains students for green jobs. The farm received a $30,000 grant to develop the first certificate program in sustainable urban agriculture in Southern California.

The campus urban farm, once a grassy third of an acre, now boasts a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and is managed by two professional farm educators. Students are selected to work as paid apprentices at the farm where they learn the fundamentals of soil, crop and pest management as well as agriculture-related business practices.

Klipple also helped extend the college’s Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC), a group that raises the awareness of environmental issues across the campus and into the San Diego community. ESC hosts a Green Speaker Series, and events such as Earth Fair and Recylcemania. The ESC also advocates for changes to the San Diego Community College District policies and procedures. As a result, the group helped pave the way for the District’s new Sustainability Policy and Procedure that among other things requires a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report to be created every 3 years, requires all new buildings to be built at LEED Silver or higher, and requires other energy and water saving measures as well as recycling measures. As a result of their efforts the district is also exploring converting to sustainable landscaping practices.

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 manny@sandiegometro.com. For advertising, send to cyndi@sandiegometro.com.

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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: info@probolskyresearch.com