Downtown San Diego is the bustling cultural and financial hub of the city of San Diego, the 8th largest city in the United States. Breathtaking views surround the area, which boasts more than 70 miles of coastline comprising raw beaches and urban waterfront destinations.
Since the early 2000s, Downtown’s waterfront area has seen numerous developments that have transformed the area into an entertainment, business, and residential district. Today, it is considered the waterfront heart of the state.
And the transformation has not stopped. As of mid-2022, more construction and redevelopment have been going on, and even more projects are in the pipeline.
This information highlights some of the most exciting redevelopment projects in Downtown San Diego and serves as a teaser for what’s in store for locals, investors, and visitors alike.
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Overview of Downtown San Diego
Bounded by San Diego Bay and Balboa Park
, Downtown San Diego is a prominent waterfront urban area. Bursting with historic streets, performing arts venues, maritime museums, waterfront parks, and family-friendly attractions, Downtown boasts a thriving local cultural scene – and more. It features an eclectic range of attractions, from energetic nightlife and trendy dining spots to chic boutiques and waterfront adventures.
Home to 35,000 residents, Downtown San Diego hosts more than 4,000 businesses and nine districts, as well as around 75,000 people working in the city. The area attracts millions of visitors annually, and the numbers are expected to increase with San Diego's downtown development projects shaping the city’s economic growth.
As a financial and cultural hub, Downtown San Diego is a magnet for real estate investors. New residential, retail, office and commercial developments have flourished with the redevelopment of Downtown San Diego.
To encourage people to live and work here, part of the San Diego downtown development plan is to increase the availability of diverse, affordable housing options. The goal is to provide housing options for all income levels in various neighborhoods. The redevelopment projects in commercial and residential are projected to accommodate up to 90,000 residents and yield 165,000 jobs by 2030.
Downtown San Diego Redevelopment Projects
Initiated in early 2000, the Downtown San Diego development plan articulated the vision for the city as a major North American downtown. The development projects envisioned Downtown as a world-class waterfront setting with robust employment, business, and real estate components. Each neighborhood is anchored by mixed-use centers, parks, open spaces, urban amenities, and walking lifestyles. The western waterfront will serve as downtown’s front porch.
We list below some of the most significant Downtown San Diego redevelopment projects that have transpired, are currently taking place, and are scheduled for completion in the near future.
First opened to the public in 2014, the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan is a major waterfront development in Downtown San Diego. The waterfront beautification project is a joint effort of the Port Authority and the City of San Diego.
With a goal of heightening the appeal of the bay front and increasing public access to the bay via a wide esplanade and waterfront trails, the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan has enhanced the downtown area significantly. Designed to be more pedestrian-friendly, the Embarcadero welcomes visitors with a new esplanade situated along Harbor Drive between the Navy Pier
and B Street Pier. Improvements in the first phase of the plan include a two-block area of West Broadway between North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway.
At the centerpiece of this redevelopment is a 105-foot-wide promenade with a spectacular landscape. The beautiful transformation was made possible by removing parking spaces and realigning Harbor Drive 60 feet to the east.
Some notable features that you can find in this San Diego waterfront destination include:
- Lush, colorful gardens, landscaped plazas, and pathways
- New lounge furniture, bench seating, and accent lighting in Broadway Pier
- Eye-catching public art that integrates into the architecture of the Embarcadero’s new buildings.
- Dramatic sculptural lighting fixtures installed along West Broadway
- A line-up of San Diego’s official tree, the purple-blooming jacaranda trees
- An environmentally-friendly water filtration system that captures stormwater to improve the quality of the San Diego Bay
- History markers embedded in the sidewalks
- Upscale hotels, restaurants, shops, a new park, and a cruise ship terminal
You can experience living in close proximity to the revitalized North Embarcadero with residential condos dotting the downtown. Take your pick from the iconic Pacific Gate
, the skyscraper Sapphire Tower
, the 36-story Bayside,
the towering Electra,
the resort-style The Grande,
and the 285-residential Savina.
Completed in 2014, the $49.4 million waterfront park redevelopment transformed parking lots into 8 acres of green spaces in the Columbia (Waterfront) District.
Residents and visitors can now enjoy the 12-acre bayfront park with stunning views of the harbor. An urban eye-candy, the Waterfront Park is complete with a children’s playground, interactive fountains, low-water-using gardens, and lookout spots for fireworks. Large expanses are great for family picnics, running, biking, and outdoor play.
The Waterfront Park is packed with events year-round, from community activities to festivals and farmers' markets. The diverse spaces, numerous locations in the park, and Instagram-worthy views of the San Diego Bay make Waterfront Park a popular venue for weddings and private events.
Manchester Pacific Gateway
The Manchester Pacific Gateway
project celebrates Downtown San Diego as a premier waterfront development. Defining Downtown San Diego as a unique urban place and livable pedestrian-oriented community, the development enhances Downtown through a series of linked, active outdoor spaces.
The new 17-story Navy Region Southwest Headquarters located in the southwest corner of Downtown overlooking San Diego Bay is already completed.
Two of the eight waterfront blocks are for new constructions in Downtown San Diego, such as One Broadway Hotel which will house 1,035 hotel rooms overlooking the beautiful waterfront. The remaining five blocks are dedicated to the $1.5B San Diego Research and Development District.
Currently under development, the Research and Development District (RaDD) represents the largest urban commercial waterfront site. Occupying five blocks, the eight-acre waterfront site is the newest life science mixed-use redevelopment in Downtown San Diego.
The urban life science campus will feature a 17-story tower, a series of mid-rise buildings, a museum, 3 acres of green spaces, rooftop decks, and a promenade with trendy restaurants and retail outlets.
Construction for the first phase of this San Diego downtown development project has begun and is set to be completed by the summer of 2023. Top biotech companies are expected to invest in this $1.5 billion redevelopment undertaking. Estimated to contribute 4,000 jobs and millions of dollars in economic revenues, real estate downtown is predicted to benefit from the development.
Search real estate offerings near the Research And Development District (RADD), here.
San Diego Symphony Outdoor Performance Venue
Driven by the desire to give Downtown San Diego a world-class concert venue where music and nature intersect, the San Diego Symphony, business, and government leaders took the helm of the $45 million development project. And after five years in the making, the new outdoor home for the San Diego Symphony is now known as The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.
First opened to the public in 2021, the San Diego Symphony’s cutting-edge new venue is the first permanent, year-round waterfront performance venue in the U.S. to be operated by a symphony orchestra. Situated in Embarcadero Marina Park South in Downtown San Diego, the stunning performance venue complements the dramatic bay and skyline views of San Diego.
Referred to as “The Shell”, it boasts a striking architectural design, a 13,015-square-foot outdoor stage, and a flexible seating capacity for 2,000 to 10,000 people per event. It also features sunset steps and a patio, a VIP lounge, an on-site music library of the orchestra’s musical scores, and backstage dressing rooms.
With state-of-the-art technology and visual splendor that can rival the Hollywood Bowl, Rady Shell adds value to the entertainment scene, growth of the business, local tourism, and real estate development in downtown San Diego.
The Seaport San Diego redevelopment plan aims to reinvigorate a key section of the San Diego Bayfront. Spanning 40 acres of land and 30 acres of water, the huge Downtown San Diego redevelopment
is seen to shore up the use and access of the waterfront.
Under the proposed redevelopment plan, a new Seaport Village would embrace recreational open spaces to include parks, a public promenade, walkways, public piers, and a public urban beach. New hotels, restaurants, retail, health and fitness centers, events centers, and a yacht club are lined up for a revitalized Seaport Village.
Once completed in 2024 or 2025, the Seaport San Diego will also provide an upgraded commercial fishing facility, a Blue Campus with an aquarium, a learning center, and a Blue Tech innovation facility.
The former home of the Pacific Coast League Padres, Lane Field Park
was a popular baseball stadium from 1936 to 1957. For many years after that, Lane Field was used merely as a parking lot for cruise boat passengers.
Completed in 2018, the redevelopment plan for Lane Field gave the treasured spot a new lease on life. Branded as “BRIC,” derived from the intersecting streets at Broadway and Pacific Highway, the Lane Field project includes three hotel towers, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant spaces, a two-acre public park, and thousands of parking spaces.
The redevelopment preserves the history of America’s favorite pastime with elements of baseball heritage now visible in the area. The old Lane Field infield is laid out with a home plate, an elevated pitcher’s mound, and lighting for the baselines.
In October 2012, Downtown San Diego welcomed Port San Diego’s 18th public park, Ruocco Park. Named after a prominent modern architect in San Diego, Lloyd Ruocco, and his wife, Ilse, the park was funded through private-public partnership and the trust created by the Ruoccos.
Located at the intersection of West Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway, and adjacent to Seaport Village, the park spans 3.3 acres offering amazing views of the San Diego Bay and Downtown San Diego.
Ruocco Park is a nature’s paradise blending ornamental horticulture with art and the use of hardscape. The spectacular open green space with a bounty of fern pines, eucalyptus branches, and xeriscape gardens, draws in residents and visitors from all over the city and beyond.
At the entrance, you will be welcomed by a public art installation, “The Riparium“, a sculptural gateway of eucalyptus tree branches designed by local artist Roman de Salvo. Picnic tables and benches fill the park so visitors can stop and relish the views. You can walk along the landscaped walkways or take respite under the trees.
Take advantage of living in close proximity to Ruocco Park with luxury high-rise condos such as Park Place, Pacific Gate,
Old Police Headquarters
Built-in the 1930s, the designated historic building of San Diego Old Police Headquarters (OPH) served the community until 1987. Vacant for 25 years, the historic site reopened as a reinvented lifestyle center in November 2013.
Now known as “The Headquarters”, the open-air lifestyle center breathes new life into the historic site with a renaissance of stylish specialty shops and world-class restaurants. Artfully designed, The Headquarters boasts a mix of architectural styles reflecting the heritage of San Diego – Spanish Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Pueblo Revival, and Classical Revival. Lush rows of palm trees, historic trees, and landscaped plazas complement the premier shopping and dining experience.
After indulging in retail therapy, stop by the restored 8-cell jail block which houses historic photos and memorabilia of the Old Police Headquarters. You can even take a snap of a photo at the lineup wall for a souvenir.
Live closer to this world-class lifestyle center. Contact us here
to learn more.
Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge
Spanning a length of 550 feet, Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge is one of the longest self-anchored, suspension bridges in the world. The iconic bridge completes the city’s 100-year-old vision of a Park-to-Bay link. Connecting Balboa Park to San Diego Bay, the structure is an elevated footbridge for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the heavily traveled Harbor Drive.
Completed in March 2011, the sleek, nautically themed bridge features a 131-foot tall pylon and a curved deck suspended along one edge of the bridge deck. Inclined at a 60-degree angle, the bridge leans over the deck supporting the single pair of suspension cables.
A popular photo op spot offering splendid views of downtown and the Bayfront, the futuristic curved-looking bridge brings uniqueness to Downtown San Diego.
Recognized as one of the top convention centers in the world, the San Diego Convention Center adds an exciting element to its expansion. The five-acre rooftop park makes the convention center a destination unlike any other in the country.
The rooftop park houses a number of plazas and public spaces that increase park space and improve access to the waterfront. There are seven different routes to the rooftop park, including elevators, stairs, and the Ascent. A key architectural element of the park, The Ascent is a slight ramp that begins at Park Boulevard and rises from the street along the side of the building, offering scenic views going to the rooftop park. The rooftop park allows events of all sizes with its creative spaces:
- The Pavilion offering 5,000 square feet, serves as the main stage that seats 350 people.
- The Great Lawn can accommodate up to 4,500 people who can watch and enjoy a 360-degree view of the waterfront.
- The Living Room features shade areas and benches.
The rooftop park is welcome news to Downtown San Diego residential condos
as it adds green space and beauty to the community.
Downtown San Diego Quiet Zone
This $20.6 million downtown San Diego development enhances the safety features of railroad crossings and addresses the impact of train noise on the quality of life of the residents.
The Downtown San Diego Quiet Zone extends to 13 crossings between Park Blvd and Laurel Street in the Columbia District and the Marina District The zone is meant also to benefit the hotels and tourist spots Downtown, as well as to maintain a quiet atmosphere that is important for business and tourism.
At 13-grade crossings, train conductors are no longer required to blow the horn routinely. Instead, the crossings covered in the quiet zone have been improved with safety enhancements such as traffic signals, gates, medians, and warning lights. This development is positive news for real estate in the area like Columbia District, Little Italy District, and Marina District.
Explore Your Real Estate Options in Booming Downtown San Diego
There’s no better time to buy or invest in Downtown San Diego real estate than now. We at Chaquica and Associates can assist you in exploring your options and finding the property that best matches your goals and preferences.
We at Chaquica and Associates
have the skills and expertise to guide you in this dynamic market. As a top real estate company in Greater San Diego, we know what it takes to give you a rewarding real estate experience.
Our team is led by Cristi Chaquica
, a premier real estate agent for 25 years. Cristi is a recipient of the 2020 Modern Luxury San Diego Dynamic Woman Award and was named the top-producing agent in San Diego for total sales volume in 2021.
With her expertise in the Acquisition and Marketing of Residential, Luxury, and Investment Properties, as well as Developer Services, Christi has earned the reputation of giving valued perspective, and competent guidance to her clients.