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Daily Business Report — July 30, 2014

Daily Business Report — July 30, 2014

The new owners of the Fifth Avenue Financial Center plan a multi-million-dollar renovation  that will include the addition of a street-level 5,000-square-foot restaurant and possibly a café, pub or brewery and other commercial uses. 

Alessio Family Sells Fifth Avenue Financial Center

Bertrand at Mr. A’s to remain anchor restaurant tenant

The Alessio family has relinquished ownership of the Fifth Avenue Financial Center — home of the rooftop view restaurant Mr. A’s — selling it to BBL Commercial Real Estate of San Diego and Westbrook Partners for $39.25 million.

The new owners plan a multi-million-dollar renovation that will include the addition of a street-level 5,000-square-foot restaurant and possibly a café, pub or brewery and other commercial uses.

Fifth Avenue Financial Center

Bud Alessio: ‘This is a bittersweet moment for me.’

“As a native San Diegan, this is an incredibly exciting acquisition since the tower is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city and nearly every long-time resident has a fond memory or story related to it,” said Casey Brown, president of BBL Commercial. “We look forward to positioning the building to once again be a vibrant and exciting destination while embracing and respecting its past.”

The 13-story, 150,000-square-foot tower was built by prominent San Diego businessman, banker, restaurateur and race-track operator John Alessio in 1965. It was the first tower to be constructed in the Bankers Hill (Park West) neighborhood adjacent to Balboa Park and was among just a handful throughout the city at the time. The building has been managed by Bud Alessio since his father’s death in 1998 and is 74 percent leased to a variety of tenants, many of whom have officed there for decades.

“This is a bittersweet moment for me,” said Alessio. “The building is not just a part of our family history, it is a significant part of the city’s history. It’s time for us to pass the baton, and knowing that Casey and the BBL team have such strong ties to San Diego and truly understand what the building means is very reassuring.  We’ve had many offers from investors over the years, but it was important to us that the building retain its local roots.”

Bertrand at Mr. A’s will remain the anchor restaurant tenant.

A 2006 rendering shows what the Manchester Pacific Gateway would look like if built along Harbor Drive south of Broadway. (Manchester Pacific Gateway)

A 2006 rendering shows what the Manchester Pacific Gateway would look like if built along Harbor Drive south of Broadway. (Manchester Pacific Gateway)

Coastal Commission Appeals Navy Project

The California Coastal Commission filed a last-minute appeal to a judge’s ruling on the $1.3 billion Manchester Pacific Gateway project, the biggest private development planned on the Downtown waterfront. The action, taken late Monday, means more delays in the long-planned redevelopment of the 16-acre Navy Broadway Complex. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Miller ruled against the commission in May.

“We disagree with the district court decision,” said commission attorney Christopher Peterson. “We don’t think the court adequately considered the applicable coastal act requirements for the project.”

Commented Summer Wynn, attorney for Doug Manchester, publisher of U-T San Diego and the developer of the project, “We’re disappointed that they’re continuing to cause delay and expense, but it takes awhile for cases to get resolved in the 9th circuit (court of appeals).”

Manchester won a 99-year lease with the Navy in 2006 to build a hotel-office-retail complex on eight city blocks bounded by Broadway, Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive. Part of the agreement calls for the developer to build a 373,000-square-foot regional Navy headquarters at no cost to the taxpayers to replace the current buildings that date to the 1920s.

Read more…

Rendering of Horton Plaza Park

Rendering of Horton Plaza Park

Horton Plaza Park Gets Major Boost From the State

The long-delayed project to turn a section of Horton Plaza into a civic gathering place received a major boost Monday when the state Department of Finance approved $4.9 million in extra funding.

The original funding plan for the project collapsed when the state did away with redevelopment agencies in 2011. The Finance Department has been deciding which projects caught up in the same bind will be funded.

Meanwhile, Civic San Diego, which guides development projects for the city, had to re-bid the project, and since the economy is doing better, the winning proposal came in at a higher cost than first projected, making the additional $4.9 million necessary.

When the project began nearly two years ago with the demolition of the Robinsons-May/Planet Hollywood building, city officials touted the park as a 37,000-square-foot public place.

However, the boarded-up site on Broadway at Fourth Avenue has been inactive for many months. Problems with the property title and a substandard underground electrical box also contributed to the delays.

“This approval clears the last financial hurdle before construction of this important centerpiece for the city of San Diego,” said Andrew Phillips, interim president of Civic San Diego.

When completed in September 2015, Horton Plaza Park will include an amphitheater, three food and beverage/retail pavilions with glass curtain walls, public restrooms, granite paving, stone walls, an interactive water feature and public right-of-way improvements, according to Civic San Diego. Officials with the agency said the existing 20,000-square-foot historic park will be rehabilitated, the Broadway Fountain will be restored and new landscaping will be added.

The total construction cost is now projected at $16.9 million, with another $750,000 authorized by the City Council to handle future maintenance issues.

— City News Service

Supervisors Vote to Support Open-Air Fish Markets

County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to look for ways to improve state laws to allow more open-air fresh fish markets — and to promote fish markets as part of the county’s Live Well San Diego initiative. The board’s vote came less than two weeks after Supervisor Greg Cox, working with Unified Port of San Diego officials and the County Department of Environmental Health, helped a small group of local fishermen get a permit to run an open-air fish market on port property.

The new market is scheduled to open for the first time Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Fish Harbor Pier in Downtown San Diego, between Seaport Village and the USS Midway Museum.

Cox said the market would become the first open-air seafood market in San Diego — a port that was once the commercial tuna fishing capital of the world — in “many, many years.”

Peter Halmay, president of the San Diego Fishermen’s Working Group, told the board the fishermen’s desires involved “a lot more than just selling fish.” He said they had three objectives: restore the culture and heritage of fishing in San Diego; create a way for the county’s fishermen to work together; and to restore the connection between the community and the waterfront, and by extension, the ocean.

Cubic Awarded $700 Million Contract

To Continue Service to UK Capital

Cubic Corp.’s UK subsidiary Cubic Transportation Systems has been awarded a ticketing and fare collection contract from Transport for London. The contract is for seven years with a value of more than $700 million. The contract also includes the option to extend for an additional three years, giving the total deal an expected value of more than $1 billion. Cubic has been associated with ticketing and revenue management in London for more than three decades, with expert understanding of the intricacies of one of the world’s busiest travel networks.

Constance White Takes Flight From

Art Manager Post at Lindbergh Field

Constance White

Constance White

Constance White, art program manager for the San Diego International Airport, will step down from her post Aug. 8 to take a job as vice president for public art at the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, N.C., CityBeat reports. White will lead public art programs for the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. She starts the new job in Septembe.

“It’s just a life-changing opportunity,” White said, talking about the new gig at a small goodbye-gathering with coworkers at the airport. “I’ve enjoyed the job and you all immensely.”

Since taking the position in 2006, White’s been responsible for the airport’s temporary and rotating exhibits, an ongoing performance-art series and both large- and small-scale public-art installations.

With her at the helm, SDIA has given local and international artists interesting opportunities. Sheryl Oring’s residency at the airport culminated in a public performance inviting passersby to share their travel stories via vintage typewriters. Jim Campbell’s 700-foot-long LED-light installation works to counter travel anxiety by lighting the form of birds gracefully flying overhead. Norie Sato’s recently completed “Reflection Room” installation is a peaceful, artful sanctuary for those wanting to escape the hustle-bustle.

— San Diego CityBeat

Sanford Education Center Rendering (carrier johnson + C U L T U R E)

Sanford Education Center Rendering (carrier johnson + C U L T U R E)

National University Receives Anonymous

$9.22 Million Gift for Sanford Education Center

National University has received an anonymous $9.22 million gift for the Sanford Education Center, which is being created to affect positive change in society through programs that support the development of nonprofit leaders, teachers and others dedicated to the public good.

The donation is the largest ever received by the university, and will cover construction costs and the development of innovative programs offered through the center’s Sanford Cause Leadership Program and Sanford Education Programs.

The Sanford Education Center at National University was established in January 2014 with a $1 million inaugural gift from philanthropist and businessman Thomas Denny Sanford. The center, based in La Jolla, is expected to open in fall 2014.

Sanford Education Programs are estimated to serve more than 50,000 teachers, and as a result, impact more than 650,000 Pre-K through 12th grade students by their fifth year of operation, officials said.

 Corporate Directors Forum to Honor Six Directors

Corporate Directors Forum will honor six San Diego directors for their high standards in corporate governance at its annual Director of the Year awards Sept. 23 at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla.

The directors being recognized are:

Frederick T. Muto, director, Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., honored as Director of the Year for Corporate Governance.

Gerald T. Proehl, president, CEO and director, Santarus Inc., honored as Director of the Year for Enhancement of Economic Value.

John W. Kozarich, chairman, Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., honored as Director of the Year for Companies in Transition.

Susan R. Salka, CEO, president and director, AMN Healthcare, honored as Director of the Year for Corporate Citizenship.

Kathleen Sellick, former president and CEO, Rady Children’s Hospital, honored as Director of the Year for Corporate Governance, Not-for-Profit Board.

Karin Eastham, director, various boards, recognized for Lifetime Achievement in Corporate Governance.

The Director of the Year Awards dinner is open to the public and ticket prices are $250 per person. Reservations: (858) 455-7930.

Junipero Serra Museum Report Earns Statewide Honor

The California Preservation Foundation (CPF) has selected the Historic Structure Report for the Junípero Serra Museum —  operated by the San Diego History Center — for a 2014 Preservation Design Award in the Cultural Resource, Studies, or Reports category.

The report — commissioned by the History Center and submitted by David Marshall, president and senior principal of Heritage Architecture & Planning — outlines the planned preservation future improvements for the museum in San Diego’s Presidio Park. The award will be presented on Sept. 26 at a dinner and awards ceremony at the Cicada Club in the Oviatt Building in Los Angeles.

“We are honored to share this award with Heritage Architecture and Planning” said San Diego History Center Trustee William Lawrence. “This Historic Structure Report provides the basis for the preservation and restoration of this landmark by our partners, the city of San Diego and marks a renewed dedication to the Serra Museum by the San Diego History Center.”

North County Craft Brew Symposium

The first ever North County Craft Brew Symposium will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 6, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Vista Civic Center, 200 Civic Center Drive, Vista. The symposium will explore the economic impact and importance of the craft brew industry in North County, the ancillary services that serve craft breweries, and how the region can support and grow this industry.

The event will include a National University Report — North County Update; Q&A with the ABC; four  different panel topics; and exhibit booths.

Click here to register.

S.D. Housing Prices Rise

Amid Nationwide Slowdown

Housing prices in San Diego increased half a percent between April and May, amid a nationwide slowdown in home value gains, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday. The annual home price increase for San Diego, measured from May 2013 to May of this year, was 12.4 percent. Annual gains earlier this year were over 19 percent, and above 20 percent at times last year.

Standard & Poor’s, which studies data in 20 large housing markets, created the indices by taking housing costs in January 2000, assigning them a value of 100, and tracking their subsequent rise and fall.

San Diego’s index in May was 201.85, representing a doubling in housing prices over 15 years — despite the recession. The jump was the third-fastest in the U.S. over that time, behind Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The 20 markets combined stood at 170.64 in May, an increase of 1.1 percent from the month before and 9.3 percent over the previous year.

McKean Defense Expands in San Diego

McKean Defense Group LLC has expanded its San Diego operations and relocated to a larger facility. The new office located at 4045 Hancock St., Suite 220, provides the opportunity for McKean to co-locate staff with those from Cabrillo Technologies, a McKean subsidiary. The space includes a large conference room outfitted to support the Commander Navy Regional Maintenance Center’s Work Force Development courses conducted by McKean for key surface ship maintenance positions including port engineers, project managers, ship building specialists, contract specialists, and test engineers.

“With the increase of work in San Diego for both Cabrillo and McKean, it was time to invest in larger accommodations,” said Joseph Carlini, president and CEO of McKean.

McKean’s San Diego operation also supports the Surface Maintenance Engineering Planning Program, Commander Naval Surface Pacific, and Naval Sea Systems Command Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships and PMS 339 customers from this location.

California and Mexico Strengthen Economic Ties

MEXICO CITY – On the final day of the California Trade and Investment Mission to Mexico, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a broad agreement with Mexico’s Ministry of Economy to expand trade between businesses in Mexico and California.

“For California business, Mexico represents incredible opportunity,” said Brown. “And with today’s agreement, we lay the foundation for job-creating investments that will benefit the people of California and Mexico.”

The agreement will boost economic, cultural and academic cooperation between California and Mexico, with an emphasis on advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, health and biotechnology, education, agricultural technology and tourism.

The agreement also will enable Mexican companies to access California’s Innovation Hubs, an innovation network that includes 16 clusters of research parks, technology incubators, universities and federal laboratories along with economic development organizations, business groups and venture capital funds.

Port Names Acting CEO

John Bolduc

John Bolduc

The Port of San Diego has appointed John A. Bolduc as acting chief executive officer in the aftermath of the firing of Wayne Darbeau. Bolduc spent the last four years serving as chief of the Harbor Police Department where he oversaw 158 employees — nearly a third of the port’s staff — and an annual budget of $31 million. Assistant Chief of Police Mark Stainbrook has been named acting chief of the Harbor Police Department.

Darbeau, who held the job for about four years, got in hot water when he sent an email to Sharon Bernie-Cloward, the president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, asking if its members could help in his son’s search for a summer job. He withdrew the request when the message became public.

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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: