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Daily Business Report-Feb. 7, 2014

Daily Business Report-Feb. 7, 2014

The Columbia Center in Downtown San Diego will be renamed 1 Columbia Place.

Columbia Center to Get Restyling and a New Name

The 27-story Columbia Center, a 34-year-old Downtown landmark noted for its stair-step design and American flag on its rooftop, will undergo a multi-million-dollar “restyling” by its owner, New York-based Emmes Realty Services, and will get a new name  — 1 Columbia Place.

“Our vision for the reimagination of 1 Columbia Place is bringing life to work,” said Scott Grady, vice president of Emmes Realty Services of California LLC, an affiliate of the Emmes Group of Companies.

The building was completed in 1980 and was acquired by Emmes in 2012 for $135 million. It’s the home of Higgs Fletcher and Mack, one of San Diego’s oldest law firms.

“The building’s systems have all been recently renovated including modernized elevators and the addition of a Building Optical Network that delivers fiber optic cable throughout the building,” said Grady. “We plan to build on the existing infrastructure with a top-to-bottom exciting restyling including a new and prominent exterior entrance on Columbia Street and a renovation of the lobby. We will also deliver more lifestyle-oriented retail and amenities to meet the demands of today’s workforce.”

Refurbishing of the lobby, common areas and outdoor terraces is expected to be complete by summer.

Designed by LPA Inc., the restyling will include an updated facade on Columbia Street, a modern lobby with new furnishings, color palette and digital displays,  and new signage throughout the building. There also are plans for a new eatery, gourmet coffee shop and a fitness center.

Websense Gets $4.5 Million to Move to Texas

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made trips around the country, including to San Diego, to lure businesses to his state.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made trips around the country, including to San Diego, to lure businesses to his state.

Thanks to a $4.5 million check from the Texas government, San Diego-based software company Websense is moving its corporate headquarters to Austin, capital of the Lone Star State, the U-T San Diego reports.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Thursday that the Texas Enterprise Fund will send the cash to Websense, which in exchange will relocate 445 jobs to Austin and also make a to-be-announced $9.9 million capital investment. Websense, which opened in 1994, was purchased by Vista Equity Partners in June for $910 million cash.

Perry has made trips around the country, including to San Diego, to tout Texas as a state with low regulations and no state income tax, while California is among the most costly states for businesses. In 2010, Petco — a San Diego-based retailer of pet products — got $3.1 million from the Texas fund to bring some of its operations to San Antonio.

Read more…

Rents Spike in Tech Hubs Like San Diego

The Regents La Jolla condos are located in a high-tech area.

The Regents La Jolla condos are located in a high-tech area.

Rents in cities with booming tech industries are climbing faster than in the rest of the country, and San Diego has seen some of the steepest increases, according to a new report.

Real estate company Trulia collected housing cost data on 10 tech hubs from around the country. The price of renting a two-bedroom unit grew fastest in startup-saturated San Francisco. But San Diego was a close second. Local rents shot up over 10 percent last year, compared with a national average increase of 3.3 percent.

“I’m not surprised by some of that information,” said Efrem Bycer, manager of economic development for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. “Generally, where economies are doing better, and people want to live, prices are going to go up. The question always is where’s the threshold of when it becomes too expensive.”

Bycer says tech industry growth may indeed contribute to rising rents. But other factors like housing supply and quality of life could be driving up prices too.

Tensions over tech sector growth and unaffordable housing are front and center in the San Francisco Bay Area. Protesters recently blocked Google’s employee buses and many locals feel they’re being pushed out of their neighborhoods by “techies.”

Bycer said San Diego hasn’t seen those sorts of confrontations. But he thinks the city will have to work at figuring out how to make housing more affordable in the emerging “hourglass economy.”

— Reported by KPBS

Motorists Can Now Sign Up for Snoopy License Plates

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins signed up to be one of the first to receive a Snoopy license plate, whose sales will

Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins

Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins

benefit California museums. The plate, which features an original drawing by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz of the famous beagle doing his signature twirling feet dance, is now available to the public.

Like all specialty license plates, the Snoopy plate will cost $50, plus another $48 if motorists want their plate personalized. DMV will begin issuing the plates once at least 7,500 prepaid requests have been received online.  Requests for the plate may be submitted at

The bill creating the license plate was sponsored by the California Association of Museums.


Del Mar Pours Close to $1 Million in Infrastructure Work

DEL MAR — The City of Del Mar is investing nearly $1 million to enhance pedestrian accessibility through the installation of sidewalks, repair streets, and improve drainage in the Beach Colony area between 22nd Street and the San Dieguito River. Construction is scheduled to begin in March. The project, which is part of an effort to improve sidewalk connectivity citywide over the next several years, includes construction of curb, gutter, and sidewalks on both sides of Camino del Mar, 20 pedestrian ramps, pavement rehabilitation, and landscape planting areas. Underground storm drain infrastructure will be constructed on the east side of Camino del Mar at 27th Street. Groundbreaking will occur in March, with completion scheduled by Memorial Day. The cost for this community investment is estimated to be $963,000, paid for using a portion of the city’s share of revenues from TransNet, the countywide, voter‐approved half‐cent sales tax that can only be used for local transportation projects.

SBA Ombudsman to Meet Small Business Owners

Brian Castro, national ombudsman for the U.S. Small Business Administration, will be in San Diego on Feb. 20 to talk with San Diego area small business owners and other representatives of the small business community. The meeting is to discuss federal regulations, audits, fines, enforcement actions and other actions that impact small businesses. The meeting will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the board of directors conference room at the Port of San Diego administrative offices at 3165 Pacific Highway.

Grossmont Hospital Lease Extension Ballot Measure in Works

The Grossmont Healthcare District, the public agency that serves as landlord of Grossmont Hospital, is preparing for a possible June ballot measure to extend the existing lease agreement with Sharp HealthCare for the operation of the La Mesa hospital. GHD board members gave the go-ahead to begin preparing a ballot measure with the June election as a target date. A final decision whether to proceed with a June election is expected in early March.

GHD’s current 30-year lease with Sharp, signed in 1991, is scheduled to expire in 2021. Discussions have been underway for more than a year about extending the current lease for another 30 years, while making improvements to the current agreement.

Sonrgy Inc. Secures Exclusive Drug Delivery License

Sonrgy Inc., a San Diego-based biotechnology company developing drug delivery technologies, has entered into an exclusive license agreement with the University of California for the company’s core technology, an ultrasound sensitive drug delivery platform. The agreement grants the company sole rights to develop and market the technology worldwide and protects the technology from competitors.

Songry is developing a targeted chemotherapy delivery platform to improve survival and quality of life for cancer patients. It is based on research conducted in the lab of professor Sadik Esener at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. The technology addresses problems related to stability and controlled release in drug delivery, said Michael Benchimol, Sonrgy’s chief technology officer.  “We are excited to initiate the next steps of its commercial development,” he said.

Governor Wants CalPERS Action on Rising Pension Costs

Gov. Jerry Brown wants the California Public Employees Retirement System to start accounting for its retirees’ longer life spans, which are driving up pension costs. The CalPERS board will vote later this month on when to start asking the state and local governments to increase their annual contributions to offset the added cost of people living longer. CalPERS staff recommends waiting two years, but Brown says that’s unacceptable. “He wants CalPERS to account for the changes immediately so the state can start paying those costs today, rather than push off the costs into the future,” said Jim Evans in the governor’s press office. Starting now would cost the state an extra $1.2 billion a year. — Reported by Capital Public Radio

Colliers International Promotes Top Brokers

Colliers International has promoted three top brokers at its San Diego and Carlsbad offices.

Derek Hulse

Derek Hulse

Derek Hulse, promoted to vice president in the San Diego office, specializes in the leasing and sales of office properties in the central San Diego office markets. His primary focus is representing owners, both private and institutional, of multi-tenant office projects. Hulse was recently elected to the board of directors of NAIOP San Diego. He completed $30 million of office sales and leases in 2013.

Evan McDonald, promoted to vice president in the San Diego office, specializes in sales and leasing of industrial and flex

Evan McDonald

Evan McDonald

properties in central San Diego County. During 2013, Evan leased and sold 400,000 square feet of industrial/flex product, establishing him as one of the Top Ten Producers in the San Diego region.

Chris Williams

Chris Williams

Chris Williams, promoted to associate vice president in the Carlsbad office, specializes in the leasing and sales of office properties in the North County and I-15 corridor office markets. During 2013, Williams represented 1.1 million square feet of existing product and 1million square feet of proposed development, and was involved in $29.7 million and 176,000 square feet of property transactions.  He sits on the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) Developing Leaders Council and is the president of the San Marcos Economic Development Corp.


John Witherall Joins Colliers International

John Witherall

John Witherall

CARLSBAD — John Witherall has joined the Carlsbad office of Colliers International as associate vice president specializing in leasing of industrial properties in North County. Witherall previously was with Cushman Wakefield. He started with the firm in 2006 when it was known as Coldwell Banker Commercial in Carlsbad. Witherall completed the highest number of transactions in 2009 and 2010 with Coldwell Banker Commercial and in 2012 and 2013 with Cushman Wakefield. Witherall holds a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University.


Tri-City Hospital Foundation Selects Executive Director

Glen Newhart

Glen Newhart

OCEANSIDE — Tri-City Hospital Foundation has selected fundraising executive Glen Newhart as its new executive director. In his new leadership role, Newhart will oversee philanthropic development and fundraising in support of Tri-City Medical Center. Newhart has more than 20 years of experience in the field. In addition to building annual and capital giving programs andfundraising programs for private educational organizations in Idaho, Georgia and Arkansas, he held health care-focused positions at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Show Low, Ariz., Shodair Children’s Hospital in Helena, Mont. and the American Heart Association in Marietta, Ga.

Newhart has been honored with a number of professional recognitions and accolades. He was named one of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ “Outstanding Fundraising Professional” award winners in 2013 and received Outstanding Fundraising Performance Awards from both the American Heart Association and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  Newhart was president-elect of the Northern Arizona chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, president of the Blue Ridge Education Foundation and the Blue Mountain Academy Alumni Association.

Xavier Martinez Appointed to State Board

SAN MARCOS  — Xavier Martinez, 68, of San Marcos, has been appointed to the California Physician Assistant Board by Gov. Jerry Brown. Martinez has been owner of Martinez and Associates Inc. since 1995. He was a temporary tax preparer at Jassoy Graff and Douglas from 1993 to 1994 and temporary staff member at Security Pacific Financial from 1992 to 1994. Martinez was tax manager at McDonnell Douglas Computer Systems from 1989 to 1991 and at USA Petroleum from 1987 to 1988. He was director of taxes at the Wickes Corporation from 1973 to 1987. Martinez earned a master’s degree from Golden Gate University. The position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Martinez is a Democrat.

Brandon Fortune Named Executive Chef at L’Auberge Del Mar

Brandon Fortune

Brandon Fortune

DEL MAR — Brandon Fortune has been appointed executive chef of the 120-room L’Auberge Del Mar. Fortune will oversee all culinary operations for the property, including the Kitchen 1540 restaurant.

A native of the Southeast, Fortune is an honors graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, Ga. He began his career at the five-diamond, five-star Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta before heading west to hone his skills at another five-diamond, five-star resort, The Grand Del Mar in San Diego. As a member of The Grand Del Mar’s opening culinary team, Fortune worked alongside two-Michelin Star-awarded Chef Jason McLeod perfecting his craft in the resort’s dining outlets and banquets.

In 2010, Fortune opened his own tapas restaurant in La Jolla called Aquamoree. The restaurant offered upscale Southern cuisine prepared as small plates and was named a top American restaurant by San Diego With the arrival of his first child in 2013, Fortune moved away from restaurant ownership and has been serving as a culinary consultant on a local project.

Fortune will start at L’Auberge Del Mar on Feb. 17 and will begin implementing his vision immediately.

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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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