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Daily Business Report — May 7, 2010

40 Under 40 Nominations

Nominations are now open for San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s 11th annual 40 Under 40 awards. The nomination period ends May 31. The honorees will be feted at our annual luncheon on Sept. 9 at the San Diego Convention Center and profiled in the September issue of the magazine. Visit for a nomination form.

County Office Market Shows Signs of Recovery

The San Diego County office market is seeing signs of recovery, according to reports by Cushman & Wakefield and Jones Lang LaSalle in reports covering the first quarter of the year.

Cushman & Wakefield said activity is gradually picking up, particularly in conveniently located areas with well-positioned and desireable office product that is now available at highly competitive rates with generous concessions. Jones Lang LaSalle said some indicators point to the office market stabilizing in the county, increased tenant requirements — especially from large companies.

“The San Diego County office market has been treading water for quite some time now, but in select submarkets we are finally seeing movement,” said Eric A. Northbrook, executive director with Cushman & Wakefield.  “This is coming from an increase in activity from companies who recognize that the current environment provides tremendous opportunity for quality space. As the overall economy begins to stabilize — reflected in recent stock market and employment gains — we expect to see even more improvement.”

According to the Cushman & Wakefield study, San Diego County recorded 291,140 square feet of direct positive net absorption for the first quarter of 2010, a significant shift from the same period in 2009 when negative 531,760 square feet of net absorption occurred. Gross leasing activity (representing all direct leases and subleases signed) during the first three months of the year was 1,595,164 square feet.

The I-15 Corridor remains the bright spot of the first quarter, with 334,963 square feet of positive net absorption as of March 31, 2010. The majority of this activity occurred in Rancho Bernardo where Nokia signed a 196,734-square-foot lease at The Summit at Rancho Bernardo. Additionally, MedImpact moved into its newly completed 150,000-square-foot build-to-suit campus in Scripps Ranch, and renewed a signification portion (32,775 square feet) of space at Scripps Corporate Plaza.

Other significant transactions in the first quarter include The County of San Diego, which signed a 45,847-square-foot lease at 450 B Street in downtown San Diego; Advanced BioHealing, which signed a 20,432-square-foot lease at 11095 Torreyana Rd. in Torrey Pines; and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, which signed a 29,940-square-foot lease at 701 B St. in downtown San Diego.

The Cushman & Wakefield report shows current countywide direct vacancy of 15.2 percent unchanged from 15.2 percent reported in the first quarter of 2009. Direct asking monthly rental rates are averaging $2.26 per square foot countywide, down from $2.55 per square foot as of March 31, 2009.

Jones Lang LaSalle said the inventory of empty office space will continue to exert downward pressure on asking rents and provide intense competition between owners for large and medium-sized credit tenants. “Moreover, it said, “concession packages such as lease buyouts, long-term free rent periods, increased tenant improvement packages, moving allowances and other enticements have been prevalent in the last few quarters and are forecasted to continue through the balance of this year.”

Jones Lang LaSalle said leasing activity in Downtown San Diego remained relatively quiet after last year’s 102,000-square-foot Procopio, Cory Hargreaves & Savith relocation and expansion. “However, the law firm of Lewis Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith signed a lease for 29,000 square feet at 701 B St.,” according to the Jones Lang LaSalle report. The report also said that Bridgepoint Education leased 28,000 square feet at 600 B St. in the first quarter, expanding its considerable footprint into Downtown, and is in the market for additional space in the suburbs.

More than $1 billion in defense contracts have been awarded to San Diego-area companies in 2010, among them General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Cardinal Health, said Jones Lang LaSalle.

Ace Relocations Systems Acquires Phoenix Company

San Diego-headquartered Ace Relocation Systems Inc. has acquired the assets of Southwest Transfer and Storage, a Phoenix-based agent for Atlas Van Lines and a company with which it currently conducts business. Ace Relocation will retain Gary Bialowas, former president of Southwest Transfer, as vice president and general manager of the Phoenix location, as well as the entire staff of Southwest Transfer. The acquisition gives Ace Relocation Systems nine offices. Its other offices are in Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Optimer Pharmaceuticals Appoints New President and CEO

Pedro Lichtinger, who has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and animal health industries, has been appointed president and CEO of Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. Michael N. Chang, co-founder of Optimer who has led the company as president and CEO since inception, will serve as chairman of the board of directors and as a consultant. Lichtinger previously served as an executive of Pfizer Inc. from 1995 to 2009, most recently as president of Pfizer’s Global Primary Care Business Unit, where he oversaw operations in North America, Europe, Korea and Australia with revenues of $23 billion, 15,000 employees, and more than 60 development projects.  Prior to this position, he served as Pfizer’s area president in Europe overseeing all pharmaceutical products including primary care, oncology, specialty and generic.

The company also announced that Alain B. Schreiber, a managing partner at ProQuest Investments, stepped down from his position as a director of the company.  Schreiber had served on the company’s board since 2001.

Business Sales Slow in County During April

San Diego County’s small and mid-market businesses were sold at a slower rate last month compared with April 2009, according to a report by The count of 116 deals recorded in the just-concluded month fell short of the 161 deals closed the same month last year. The city of San Diego accounted for 43 of the completed deals in April. There were nine closed escrows in Escondido and seven each in El Cajon and La Mesa.

 Analysis of sold business activity by the company also shows a decline in year-to-date statistics in the county.

A total of 388 deals recorded through the just-completed month is a drop of nearly 15 percent from the 455 count of San Diego businesses sold through April 2009. 

(Year to date small business sales statistics by cities in San Diego County are: Carlsbad: 10, Chula Vista: 14, Del Mar: 4, El Cajon: 28, Encinitas: 6, Escondido: 24, La Jolla: 10, La Mesa: 13, Lakeside: 7, Oceanside: 13, San Diego: 164, San Marcos: 8, San Ysidro: 1, Spring Valley: 18, Vista: 15, Cardiff By The Sea: 2, Coronado: 3, Imperial Beach: 5, Lemon Grove: 4, Poway: 11, Valley Center: 1, Alpine: 4, Fallbrook: 4, Jacumba: 1, National City: 5, Ramona: 2, Rancho Santa Fe: 4, Santee: 2, Bonita: 3, Boulevard: 1, Jamul: 1)

“San Diego County’s rate of sold businesses, like the statistics gathered in most parts of the state, show a disappointing decline from the levels of activity last year,” said Peter Siegel, founder and CEO of

“We anticipate growth in small business sales activity in the county, as well as throughout California, as the economy stabilizes and entrepreneurs regain their confidence about the future,” he said.

Surgical Center Signs New Lease at Pacific Medical Plaza

Surgical Center of San Diego has signed a new lease at Pacific Medical Plaza, 4910 Directors Place, in San Diego. The 12,500-square-foot deal is valued at $5.3 million. The surgery center and Kilroy Realty, the landlord, were both represented by Paul Braun and Chris Ross of Colliers International.The three-story, Class A medical building allows tenants the option to lease a turn-key, move-in ready spec suite or to custom build a new medical suite to cater to the specific needs of their practice and patients.

National Maritime Day Breakfast Set for May 20

A  National Maritime Day breakfast will be held May 20 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel by the Port of San Diego and its partners, the World Trade Center, city of San Diego and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. The event, which is being held to celebrate the maritime industry and the people employed in the various waterfront businesses, is from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Individual tickets are $40. To register, write a check and mail it to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., 530 B Street, Suite 700, San Diego, CA 92101, or reserve online (for an extra $3) at The morning will include presentations on the jobs and businesses in the maritime industry cluster and a panel discussion with representatives from the Navy and key maritime sector leaders. There also will be video vignettes with comments from workers who are employed in waterfront business, such as NASSCO and an employee with Pasha Automotive Services.


May 7

WORKSHOP ON HEALTH CARE: The Asian Business Association of San Diego presents a workshop on “The Impact of Health Care Reform on San Diego’s Business Community,” 11:30 a.m., Sheraton Mission Valley, 1433 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego 92108. Includes lunch. Speakers: Ruben Garcia, district director, U.S. Small Business Administration; Kamal Muilenburg, director of San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage; Lambert Hsu, principal of BenefitPro Insurance Services. ABA members $20, nonmembers $30. At the door, $35. RSVP to (858) 277-2822, Ext. 102.

May 10

SEMINAR: San Diego Tech Coast Angels presents a full-day seminar on angel investing to the San Diego community. Seminar was developed by the Kauffman Foundation. Presenter is John May, chair emeritus of the Angel Capital Association. Topics: how angel funding fits in; angel portfolio strategy; due diligence; structuring the deal; valuation; the post-investment relationship. 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., offices of Mintz Levin, 3580 Carmel Mountain Road, Suite 300, San Diego 92130. Free to SDTCA members, $250 to members of any TCA network or CONNECT, $350 general registration. To register, visit For more information, call Laura Parsons at (858) 964-1302.

May 11

SEMINAR: Sales strategies and techniques for real estate professionals will be presented by motivational sales strategist Jeff Shore in a seminar hosted by the Building Industry Association of San Diego’s Sales & Marketing Council. Breakfast meeting, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., Mission Valley Doubletree Hotel, 7450 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego. Tickets $55 for BIA members, $85 for nonmembers. Register before May 10 by calling (858) 450-1221, Ext. 101, or visit

May 12

SMART GROWTH AWARDS: The San Diego/Tijuana district council of the Urban Land Institute presents its 2010 Smarth Growth Awards to honor pioneers, entrepreneurs, trendsetters and fans of sustainable development in the region. 6 to 8 p.m., McMillin Event Center, 2875 Dewey Road, San Diego 92106. San Diego Architectural Foundation will also presents its Community Vision Award for 2010. $45 for members and nonmembers, $25 for Young Leader members and $15 for student members. To purchase tickets, visit

May 13

GREEN PROGRAM: The Green Chamber of Commerce sponsors presentations by John Stein, CEO of Kirei USA, and Remy Meraz, area sales manager of ClearEdge Power, on “Marketing Green — Lessons from the Trenches.” 7:30 to 9 a.m., Sheraton Carlsbad, 5480 Grand Pacific Drive, Carlsbad. Speakers will discuss their experiences marketing green versus conventional products. Admission $10 if registered by May 12, $15 at the event. For more information, visit

May 14

SEMINAR: The National Association of Women Business Owners San Diego hosts a talk by Joon Han, founder of Better San Diego, speaking on “Get Ahead by Giving Back.” Noon to 1 p.m., Brandman University, 7460 Mission Valley Road, San Diego. Han will share strategies to help entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses. NAWBO members free, $25 for nonmembers. Box lunches to be provided. Online registration and more information available at

May 19

WORKSHOP: San Diego Press Club sponsors “Life After Journalism,” a program presented by Joe Ames, former editor of the Orange County Register. Ames spent 30 years as a reporter and editor in radio, TV and newspapers and will discuss career options after journalism. 6 to 8 p.m., KGTV Studio, 4600 Air Way, San Diego. Free to Press Club members, $10 for nonmembers. To reserve, call Terry Williams, executive director, at (619) 231-4340 or visit

May 20

CLEANTECH PANEL: CONNECT presents a panel talk on “Cleantech & Renewable Energy Financing: From the Public to the Private and Beyond,” 9 to 11 a.m., AMN Healthcare, 12400 High Bluff Drive, No. 100, San Diego 92130. Panelists will discuss federal and state programs and incentives for the renewable and cleantech industry as well as the private marketplace. Panelists: Nick Leibham, of counsel, Dirk Michels, partner, Sue Hodges, administrative partner and Greg Brucia, senior associate, all of K&L Gates LLP; and Andrew McAllister, program director, California Center for Sustainable Energy. Cost is $45 for CONNECT members, $65 for nonmembers. For more information, call Bethany Kraynack at (858) 964-1312. Register at

June 15

PRESENTATION: Michael Bergthold of Odyssey Strategic Advisory Services and J. Barrett Marum of San Diego Sheppard Mullin will cover legal issues faced by buyers and sellers of distressed businesses or assets; cover Section 363 bankruptcy purchases and sales; and buying and selling out-of-state and federal receiverships in a program sponsored by the Association for Corporate Growth San Diego. Doubletree Hotel Hazard Center, 7450 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego 92108. 7 a.m. registration. 7:40 to 9 a.m., breakfast and program. Free for ACG members, $50 for nonmembers. Make reservations at or

The Daily Business Report is produced by REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, the North Park News, Kensington News and the West Coast Craftsman. (619) 906-4104.

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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.

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