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Daily Business Report — Nov. 10, 2010

Breakthrough in Genomics Technology


La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology will develop San Diego’s first center for RNAi screening — a breakthrough genomics technology that would further enhance San Diego’s reputation as a national research leader and provide the local biomedical community ready access to the Nobel Prize-winning technology. The National Institutes of Health awarded the La Jolla Institute $12.6 million in October to develop the center. Read about it in the November issue of SD METRO.

Convention Center Architectural Team Chosen

Curtis Fentress

The San Diego Convention Center Corp. board on Tuesday approved the selection of a Denver firm to design the proposed phase 3 expansion of the San Diego Convention Center under a plan that could knock off 10 percent of the original estimated cost of $710 million. The board picked Fentress Architects and team members John Portman & Associates and Civitas out of a group of five finalists. Curtis Fentress founded Fentress Architects in 1980.

The Fentress plan includes a five-acre rooftop park and would add 225,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit hall space on the ground floor, about 100,000 square feet of meeting room space and a new 80,000-square-foot ballroom to the current building. When completed, the Convention Center will have more than 750,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit hall space —larger than any other on the West Coast, moving San Diego ahead of competitors in Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. In addition, the ballroom will be the largest ballroom in a convention facility on the West Coast. The expansion could also include hotel of up to 500 rooms.

“Fentress’ design for the Convention Center builds on the success of our iconic facility by embracing the waterfront location with a new, five-acre rooftop park while delivering an expanded facility that will help drive our regional economy, generate jobs and build on our reputation as a world-class convention and meeting destination,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders.

The five-acre rooftop park would have 360-degree views of Downtown, Coronado and San Diego Bay. The park could be used to host outdoor receptions or breakfast sessions related to center events and community events such as music festivals and public art displays. Plans also include a waterfront promenade on the ground floor with retail shops, pedestrian walk ways and a waterfront transportation center. While Fentress is designing the Convention Center expansion, Portman will design a new 250-500 room hotel adjacent to the current facility that is also part of expansion plans. Civitas, a national leader in landscape architecture and urban design, will be involved in designing the rooftop park and waterfront promenade.

Officials said the Fentress plan is more cost-effective than an earlier design with 38 percent less building mass and volume.

Small Business Contractors Needed for Airport Work

Small business contractors wanting to get part of the millions of dollars being spent on the Green Build at the San Diego International Airport are being invited to a series of events where they will be introduced to prime contractors. These meetings will help small, local, veteran, minority and women-owned businesses partner with the applicable prime contractors for bidding on airport work. No RSVP is necessary to attend the events, and small businesses should come prepared to show qualifications in preparation for bids. More than 50 construction packages ranging from $20,000 to $30 million in size are going out to bid during the next 45 days. At the team-building events, the prime contractors will evaluate a small business’s statement of qualifications and determine those that will be asked to submit subcontracting bids

All of the team-building events will be held at the  McMillan Companies Event Center, 2875 Dewey Road, San Diego. The first series will be Nov. 17 from 9 to 11 a.m. and Dec. 2 from 9 to 11 and again from 1 to 3 p.m. The next series will be Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 1 to 3 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m.

Hospitality Industry Recovery Predicted for 2011

Hospitality industry veteran Robert Rauch is predicting a slow and steady recovery in the local hospitality industry in the fourth quarter of 2010 and continuing into 2011. Rauch presented this forecast at a regional lodging conference at the Hilton Garden Inn, San Diego/Del Mar this month. In his annual hospitality forecast, Rauch said revised data points to modest increases in occupancy rates, average daily rates (ADR), and revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2011.  He said an economic recovery, although not robust, is under way and the full impact will be seen in 2014.

“If you are asking if we will see an increase in profits, the answer is finally yes!” said Rauch. “Hotel values will remain somewhat depressed this year but are headed back up. There is light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel only appears to be dark and endless, which is not a pretty picture if your interest payments put knots in your stomach.”

Rauch said hotel values in San Diego will increase as RevPAR increases.  There is currently a favorable supply and demand structure in San Diego, and profits will increase in 2011, he predicted. Rauch estimated local occupancy rates at 63.0 percent for 2009, 66.4 percent for 2010, 68.0 percent for 2011 and 70.0 percent for 2010.  He said the average rate was $124.21 for 2009, then predicted them to be $121.72 during 2010, $129 during 2011 and $136 during 2012.

2011 occupancy should hit 68 percent at $129, up from his  2010 estimated results of 66 percent at $122, said Rauch. “Also, occupancy levels will hit 70 percent in 2012 with continued strong average rate growth.”

Home Sales Slowed

Sales of single-family homes in San Diego in October slowed almost six percent, while there was no change in the amount of sales for attached properties, according to a report by the San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR). October of this year also posted far fewer sales than October of 2009 with a decrease of 20 percent for detached and 22.5 percent for attached. Year-to-date sales have also lost steam, with about five percent fewer sales compared to this time last year. 

However, median sales prices year-to-date continue to outpace those of 2009 by 10 percent. The median sales price for detached properties decreased by 1.4 percent since September and increased less than 1 percent for attached properties. 
“It’s no surprise that we are seeing another slowing in sales,” said Mark Marquez, SDAR president. “Fall is not the busiest home buying season and the recent real estate news has not instilled confidence in potential buyers. It’s a shame that people are not taking advantage of the lowest interest rates we’ve seen in decades and the additional inventory on the market. We don’t expect to see any significant increases until after the holidays, but we remain positive that the market will pick up again and we are happy with the changes we have seen throughout much of this year.”

Cannon Power Group Names New CEO

San Diego-based Cannon Power Group, a developer of wind and solar projects, has named Michael Toke as CEO after he served as eight years as senior vice president and general counsel. Toke has 13 years of experience in the wind energy industry. Before joining the company in 2001, Toke was affiliated with several major law firms where he specialized in project and corporate finance and energy law. He holds a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a master’s degree in economics/finance. Toke was raised in Russia, Poland, and Germany. He is currently based in San Luis Obispo. Cannon Power Group’s most recent major project is the 500 MW Windy Point/Windy Flats project, one of the largest wind projects in the United States, spanning over 26 miles along the Columbia River.  Cannon Power developed and constructed the project, and owns and operates 262 MW of the Windy Flats project phase portion.

Wendy Behan Named Partner at Casey Gerry Law Firm

Wendy M. Behan, an attorney specializing in personal injury and pharmaceutical products liability, has been promoted to partner at Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield. Her appointment brings the number of firm partners to seven. She joins Gayle Blatt, David S. Casey Jr., Robert Francavilla, Thomas Penfield, Frederick Schenk and Thomas Luneau. Behan has been an attorney with Casey Gerry since 1999 and currently represents clients injured by the diet supplement Hydroxycut and Yaz birth control as well as serious personal injury and premises liability cases. Her past experience includes co-litigating lawsuits filed on behalf of American prisoners of war who had been abused and exploited as slave laborers by Japanese companies during World War II.  Behan is president of Lawyers Club of San Diego, and previously served as vice president of finance. She is a recipient of this year’s San Diego Metropolitan Magazine “40 Under 40” Award, which honors achievement in business and civic affairs. Behan is a cum laude graduate of California Western School of Law and holds a bachelor’s degree in law and society from UC Santa Barbara.

Katie Pothier Joins Wilson Turner Kosmo as Partner

Katie Pothier, former executive vice president and general counsel for the San Diego Padres, has joined the Wilson Turner Kosmo law firm as a partner. Her practice will emphasize labor and employment counseling and litigation and business litigation. She will continue to work with the Padres organization as legal needs arise. Pothier joined the Padres’ front office in 2002 after serving as outside counsel for the organization for several years.  She assisted the team as it transitioned into Petco Park, providing advice on all disciplines of the business, including litigation, broadcasting and licensing agreements, employment agreements, trademark matters and operational issues.  In addition to overseeing the day to day legal affairs, Pothier oversaw the human hesources functions of the club.  Pothier was instrumental in developing the Padres’ partnership with San Diego State University and its Sports Management MBA Program, where she serves as an advisory board member. She holds a law degree and undergraduate degree from Rutgers University.

Ron Donoho Named Chief Editorial Officer at SanDiego.com

Ron Donoho, a veteran journalist,  is the new chief editorial officer of SanDiego.com. Donoho launched sandiegoDTOWN.com in 2009 to cover the Downtown area. The site was acquired by SanDiego.com, which brought him on as the full-time editor-in-chief until his selection as chief editorial officer. A San Diego journalist for more than 15 years, Donoho has won more than 40 individual writing awards from the San Diego Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists. In 2010, under Donoho, SanDiego.com won 18 San Diego Press Club awards, including Best General Interest Website. He also won a Best of Show writing award in an all-media competition to predict the future of the news industry in San Diego.

SanDiego.com also promoted Casey Earle from national sales representative to vice president of business development. Earle was previously employed by the North County Times and San Diego Magazine.

SCORE San Diego Small Business Workshops

• Nov. 12 – Women’s Networking Breakfast & Exhibits – 8 to 11 a.m. at Morgan Run Resort & Club (5690 Cancha De Golf, Rancho Santa Fe 92091; pre-paid registration $35 by 9/14, $45 thereafter; exhibitor rate: $85 by 9/14, $95 thereafter)

• Nov. 13 – How to Start and Manage Your Own Business – 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at Point Loma Nazarene University in Mission Valley (4007 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 92108; pre-paid registration $69, $79 at the door).

• Nov. 15 – Professional Selling – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at at Point Loma Nazarene University in Mission Valley (4007 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 92108; pre-paid registration $69, $79 at the door).

• Nov. 16 – Legal Issues: Organizational Structure – 9 a.m. to noon at SCORE Entrepreneur Center (550 West C St., #550, San Diego 92101; pre-paid registration $49, $59 at the door).

• Nov. 16 – Restaurant 201 – Carlsbad – 9 a.m. to noon at National University in Carlsbad (705 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad 92011; pre-paid registration $49, $59 at the door).

• Nov. 17 – QuickBooks Basic – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Point Loma Nazarene University in Mission Valley (4007 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 92108; pre-paid registration $69, $79 at the door).

• Nov. 19 – Internet Marketing 101 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Point Loma Nazarene University in Mission Valley (4007 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 92108; pre-paid registration $69, $79 at the door).

• Nov. 19 – QuickBook Basics for Non-Profits – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The San Diego Foundation – Liberty Station (2508 Historic Decatur Rd #200, San Diego 92106; pre-paid registration $69, $79 at the door).

• Nov. 20 – Business Plan 201: How to Write a Business Plan – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Point Loma Nazarene University in Mission Valley (4007 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 92108; pre-paid registration $99, $109 at the door).

• Nov. 22 – Good Governance for Non-Profits – 9 to 11:30 a.m. at The San Diego Foundation – Liberty Station (2508 Historic Decatur Rd #200, San Diego 92106; pre-paid registration $39, $49 at the door).

• Nov. 22 – Restaurant 101 – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Point Loma Nazarene University in Mission Valley (4007 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 92108; pre-paid registration $49, $59 at the door).

• Nov. 23 – Internet Marketing 201: SEO – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Point Loma Nazarene University in Mission Valley (4007 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 92108; pre-paid registration $69, $79 at the door).

• Nov. 23 – Business Basics 101 – 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at SCORE Entrepreneur Center (550 West C St., #550, San Diego 92101; FREE! Please pre-register).

• Nov. 30 – Tax Considerations for Small Business – 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at SCORE Entrepreneur Center (550 West C St., #550, San Diego 92101; pre-paid registration $29, $39 at the door).

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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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: info@probolskyresearch.com