Published on Monday, May 3, 2021
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The Kearny Mesa Community Plan Update opens the door for residential and commercial growth in the submarket.
The Kearny Mesa Community Plan Update was approved in November, and according to Jason Paguio, Asian Business Association president and CEO, the plan “provides a blueprint to maintain the area as a major San Diego employment center while also increasing its residential population from approximately 10,000 to 60,000 by adding roughly 26,000 new homes in the next 30 years.” It addresses the area’s need for housing and includes a new zoning overlay in the Convoy District—the city's entertainment area.
“With that residential development and some public projects from the City of San Diego, expect to see smaller block sizes, linear parks, paseos and an explosion of street trees. In reference to one of downtown San Diego’s hottest mixed-use neighborhoods, the San Diego Union-Tribune speculated that, with the passage of the Community Plan Update, Kearny Mesa is poised to become the next Little Italy,” Paguio tells GlobeSt.com.
Job growth is driving the explosion in the market. Kearny Mesa is expected to add an additional 25,000 jobs, making it the second largest employment epicenter in San Diego. “In addition to the plethora of high-paying jobs in Kearny Mesa, the community is one or two freeway exit from the prestigious University Town Center (UTC), UC San Diego and Sorrento Mesa job markets, as well as a short drive from other major, high-paying employment centers like Mira Mesa and Mission Valley. Overall, Kearny Mesa sits within 10 miles of over one million jobs,” says Paguio.
Life science users also could begin to migrate to the submarket, fueling more job growth. “With the nearby robust life science markets of Sorrento Mesa, UTC and Torrey Pines nearly at capacity, some developers are speculating that life science users may migrate to the new mixed-use development opportunities opening up in Kearny Mesa,” explains Paguio. “In fact, the winning University Challenge team incorporated 60,000 square feet of biotech space in its 1.34 million-square-foot development plan.”
Development activity is already taking off. Paguio notes a 3.7-acre parcel of land at the heart of Kearny Mesa that traded last quarter to a developer known for residential and mixed-use projects, two other prominent parcels are newly on the market, and Sunroad Enterprises has already made a big splash in the area with its redevelopment of a former General Dynamics complex.
The existing Convoy District will play a critical role in the market’s growth, already providing dining and entertainment options for residents and helping to give the market the title of the next Little Italy. “The Convoy District Partnership played a key role in helping the City of San Diego create the Kearny Mesa Community Plan Update, encouraging walkability and other road and public space improvements that would create a village environment, while also maintaining the Pan-Asian character,” says Paguio.
The area also has a micro business improvement district known as the Convoy District Partnership that supports growth and cultural diversity in the area, according Paguio. He explains, the Convoy District Partnership “further reinforces the strong identity of Kearny Mesa’s Pan-Asian culture by hosting community events, like the Night Market—a takeover of Convoy Street that pays homage to the bustling street markets throughout Asia, and other fun activities that bring people together, promote local establishments and business owners and generally raise awareness about the area.” This cultural foundation has also played a role in the market’s growth and in attracting developers and capital.