I marvel at the transformation of downtown in the last decade. Once a sleepy little town, downtown San Diego is vibrant with activity. As the economy flourished in the 2000s, so did downtown’s development. With recent growth came residential high rises that beautified our skyline and contributed to the live/work community we know today. In fact, the boom began in 2001 and is responsible for approximately 80% of downtown’s residential buildings, constructed between the years of 2000 and 2008. They are a combination of low, mid, and high-rise buildings.
Downtown’s residential development began with two low-rise buildings, Park Row (1983) and Marina Park (1984). These two communities are two and four stories high, lushly landscaped with beautiful gardens and outdoor walkways. Both are adjacent to Pantoja Park, a favorite of the locals. Next came two high rises, the Meridian (1986) encompassing 172 elegant residential units, and Harbor Club (1992) with twin towers 41 stories high, built on downtown’s “front row”. What followed were two mid-rises, Watermark (1992) and City Front Terrace (1994). An elegant beauty, Watermark is constructed of concrete and steel, unique for a mid-rise. A portion of City Front Terrace is built as part of the historic Soap Factory warehouse, ten stories high, and all brick! All six communities are built within the Marina District, and close walking distance to the biggest attraction in downtown at the time, Horton Plaza shopping mall (1985).
Some of the first construction of downtown was the El Cortez (1926) on Cortez Hill, and Samuel Fox Lofts (1929) located in Gaslamp, the heart of the city. Originally built as a hotel, the El Cortez is now a historic landmark, and sold as condominiums. Samuel Fox Lofts rarely has condominiums available for sale. While all of these developments are close to downtown’s core business district, later developments (2000s) pushed the outer edges of the city, extending downtown’s neighborhoods to Columbia and East Village. Two recently built residential communities in Columbia are Sapphire(2008) and Bayside (2009), both luxury high rises offering resort-like amenities, concierge service, pool, spa, sauna, library, fitness center, wine room, and 24 hour security to name a few.
Many downtown high rises have built-in commercial/retail space, separated from residences with street level entrances. In these commercial/retail spaces, you’ll find businesses that include corporate offices, restaurants, hair salons, and cafes. Horizons, Pinnacle, Alta, and the Meridian are examples of residential communities that have storefront businesses as part of their buildings. For example, Pinnacle is home to well known Richard Walker’s Pancake House.
Whichever community you choose to live and/or work, you’ll find convenient shopping, available services, parks, recreation, theaters, and restaurants all within short walking distance. Whether it’s a stroll along Market where you’ll see tree lined streets decorated in blue lights during winter holidays, lounging in Children’s Park with its elaborate water fountains, attending a baseball game at Petco Park, or taking a yoga class, you’ll love and feel the energy from this blossoming urban city.