City Council Unanimously Approves Plan To Turn Horton Plaza Into Tech Hub
UPDATED: 6:30 a.m., May 21, 2019
Downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza is on its way to becoming a high-tech hub.
The San Diego City Council voted unanimously late on Monday to approve a proposal from Los Angeles based Stockdale Capital Partners. They plan to turn the mall into a mixed-use center called the Campus at Horton.
Few people spoke in opposition to the new plan as the city council took public testimony. The owner of Jimbo’s grocery store, located in the mall, opposed it, saying he felt Stockdale would try to force him out.
The new plan will cut the current retail space in half and the rest of the property will be repurposed into 772,000 square feet of office space that the company expects will attract tech companies as tenants.
Stockdale representatives assured current Horton Plaza tenants that they are welcome to stay in their current locations and will not be evicted in favor of new retail outlets.
"We really think this can be the epicenter," said Dan Michaels, Stockdale's managing director. "Horton Plaza used to be something special, everyone knows that. I grew up going there as a kid. We want to make it special again and economically impactful to the community and we think that this does just that."
In the end, the vote by the City Council was unanimous.
"I'm very excited to see where this is headed," said City Councilman Chris Ward, whose district includes Horton Plaza. "It's just going to catalyze so much ... of the energy that we see happening downtown."
The developer said the new facility will create up to 4,000 well-paying jobs and is expected to generate more than $1.8 billion annually.
As part of the agreement, the city will amend its current land use restriction rules for Horton Plaza, allowing for the downsizing of retail space. In return, Stockdale will be required to provide $6.7 million in public benefits to the city as a way of recouping the lost retail revenue.
To do so, the firm must provide Horton Plaza with at least two security officers on duty 24 hours-per-day, year-round. Stockdale must also extend the Lyceum Theater's lease at Horton Plaza at its current annual rate of $1 beyond its expiration in 2035 for the minimum amount of time necessary to recoup the $6.7 million, estimated to be roughly seven years.
"I'm particularly excited that this will be another incentive to keep (UC San Diego) and (San Diego State University) graduates in San Diego," said City Councilwoman Barbara Bry. "UCSD has said that within five years, we lose about half of the engineering graduates to other cities."
Stockdale intends to break ground on the Horton Plaza renovations later this year and said the first phase should be completed by late 2020.