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Daily Business Report-Sept. 17, 2013

Daily Business Report-Sept. 17, 2013

 Westfield Horton Plaza

Westfield Reverses

Controversial Parking Policy

Backpedaling from a policy it enacted in February, Westfield Horton Plaza announced Monday that it is reverting back to a self-validation parking policy at the Downtown shopping center. It means that all visitors to the mall are entitled to three hours of free parking with a validation from one of six machines on site.

Under Westfield’s now scuttled old policy — which generated a lot of complaints — shoppers would have to spend a minimum of $10 at any of the mall’s stores to qualify for the three hours. Without a purchase, parking would jump to $8 an hour, with an evening flat rate of $20 after 9 p.m.

Westfield said Regal UA Theaters will continue to validate for up to four hours and Panda Inn, Madhouse Comedy Club & Restaurant and the Lyceum Theater will continue to validate for up to three hours.

The mall also announced the return of the Go Green Car Wash on the parking structure’s Level 7.

The opening of Horton Plaza Park, a major addition to the mall, is set for late 2014.

Construction Begins on Trolley Blue Line

12 stations from Barrio Logan to San Ysidro getting complete makeover

The final phase of construction is underway to modernize the 32-year-old San Diego Trolley Blue Line — the most heavily used transit service in the San Diego region, with an average weekday ridership of more than 45,000.

Sandag began major construction work on the Blue Line last week. Work to totally rebuild the line from Barrio Logan to San Ysidro includes setting up temporary boarding platforms, demolishing and rebuilding existing stations, and replacing track within stations and at adjacent grade crossings.

The Barrio Logan, Harborside, and Pacific Fleet stations are the first to get rebuilt. Construction will last five to eight months at each station. Renovation of the remaining nine stations will be phased to minimize disruption to riders. Most work will take place during the day, with occasional activities scheduled during nights and weekends. All Blue Line stations will remain open throughout construction.

Once complete, the improved stations will include new boarding platforms to accommodate low-floor trolleys, next-trolley-arrival electronic signs, shelters, and seating. Passengers will enjoy easier access, more reliable trip times, and a more comfortable ride.

More than half of the $660 million that will be spent to modernize the Trolley system in the region is being invested in the Blue Line, which requires much more extensive work to rebuild stations from the ground up. Stations already improved on the Green and Orange Lines required only overlays on station platforms to accommodate low-floor cars.

How a Heat-Seeking Bacterium Enabled the Genetics Revolution

Hudson Freeze may have a chilly last name, but this week he’s being honored for finding something hot.

Hudson Freeze

Hudson Freeze

On Thursday, the San Diego scientist will be one of the recipients in this year’s Golden Goose Awards. The prize aims to spotlight basic research that ends up having a huge economic and human impact.

Freeze directs the Genetics Disease Program at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla. But in 1969, he was a 20-year-old undergraduate helping out on a research trip to Yellowstone National Park. Working with Indiana University professor Thomas Brock, he discovered an unusual kind of bacterium. Thermus aquaticus was notable because it thrives in very hot water. Freeze said at the time he was just excited to find such a strange specimen. “I was a kid who was happy to go Yellowstone and then get back in the lab and see these bacteria swimming around,” he recalled. “And that’s as far as I took it when I was an undergraduate.”

Freeze never imagined how useful this bacterium would turn out to be. It yields an enzyme that has turned out be a crucial ingredient in a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). By allowing scientists to amplify tiny amounts of DNA, the procedure facilitated a biotech boom and enabled modern genetic sequencing.

Freeze worries about the current state of funding for U.S. scientists. “Nobody would’ve funded this,” he said about his Yellowstone expedition. Subjected to today’s scrutiny, he thinks the grant wouldn’t have come through “because it has no application, you have no idea what you’re going to find. We were very lucky to get it funded back then. The climate is not like that now.”  — Reported by KPBS

Swinerton Builders Announces Leadership Changes

Swinerton Builders on Monday announced major changes in its key leadership team, naming Jeffrey Hoopes as chief executive officer and Gary Rafferty as president. Michael Re, former CEO, will remain as chairman. Hoopes joined Swinerton in 1984 as a project engineer and later became president. Rafferty, former executive vice president of the firm, will continue to oversee general construction operations as chief operating officer. He has been with the company since 1985. Retiring CEO Re, who has led Swinerton since 2009, leaves behind a 40-year legacy of expansion and adaptation, including surpassing $2 billion in annual revenue for the first time. The executive team also includes Executive Vice Presidents Frank Foellmer and Eric Foster.

American Internet Services Names New CEO

Greg Rollet

Greg Rollet

American Internet Services (AIS) has named Greg Rollet as the firm’s new chief executive officer, succeeding Tim Caulfield, who was the top executive since 2010. Caulfield is taking on an advisory role for private equity firm Seaport Capital, an AIS investor. Rollet has nearly 30 years of business, sales and management experience, including more than 20 years in the IT sector. Before joining AIS, he was senior director of operations and service delivery at EMC, where he managed over 150,000 square feet of hosting and cloud infrastructure supporting EMC business units. Rollet worked eight years at regional data center operator Peak 10, including four years as senior vice president of market operations.

Kim Reed Perell Named President of Adconion Media Group

Kim Reed Perell, CEO of Adconion Direct, has been appointed president of Adconion Media Group. Perell will remain in her role at Adconion Direct, a stand-alone unit within Adconion Media Group. Perell has more than a decade of experience serving as a CEO in the digital media and technology industry. Previously, she was CEO and founder of Frontline Direct, a performance marketing company founded in 2003 and acquired in February 2008 by Adconion Media Group.  In 2011, Frontline Direct and the Adconion Audience Network merged to form Adconion Direct, after which Perell was appointed CEO.

San Diegans on Latest Forbes 400 Richest List

Two San Diego-area residents are on the latest Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the United States. One is Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, the La Jolla philanthropist who gives to a variety of local organizations. he’s at No. 342 with an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion. The other is Gwendolyn Sontheim Meyer of Rancho Santa Fe, who inherited money related to the Cargill agriculture-business company. She’s at No. 122, with an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion.

KCM Group Appoints Director of Operations

KCM Group, a San Diego-based construction management consulting firm, has named Tony Norton director of operations. Norton most recently was outside counsel to the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, where he was instrumental in adding 1,700-acres to the tribal reservation through the federal regulatory process. Prior to his role at Sycuan, he spent 16 years as a business and transactional lawyer in Los Angeles and San Diego. Norton graduated from the University of Manitoba with a degree in economics followed by a law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

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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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