Costa Verde strip mall near UTC cleared for total redo
City Council approves shopping center overhaul that includes biotech lab space by Alexandria and a 200-room hotel
The dated Costa Verde strip mall opposite Westfield UTC will be refashioned into a modern retail center with a life science campus and business hotel meant to be a perfect fit for future riders of the Mid-Coast Trolley line.
Tuesday, City Council members voted unanimously to approve a general plan amendment and a community plan amendment, and certify the project’s environmental analysis. The actions effectively clear the Costa Verde Revitalization project for development, with completion now anticipated for late 2023.
In the works since 2015, the Costa Verde redo is a marriage of transit convenience for center owner Regency Centers and esteemed biotech office builder Alexandria Real Estate. The land owner and the office developer have teamed to jointly finance the overhaul of the 13.9-acre site sandwiched between La Jolla Village Drive and Nobel Drive at 8560 Genesee Ave.
The newly approved plan calls for 178,000 square feet of retail alongside 400,000 square feet of office space and a 200-room hotel, with the uses designed to take advantage of the neighboring, in-progress trolley station that also feeds Westfield UTC.
The idea is to create an urban job center with ample food and beverage offerings in the heart of San Diego’s “stem sector,” said Dan Ryan, who is co-chief investment officer for Alexandria and oversees 6.5 million square feet of life science real estate in San Diego. Costa Verde, he said, will be an essential addition to San Diego’s 4.5-mile science-dominated region, which stretches from the Pacific Ocean to Sorrento Mesa.
“The over 550 companies in the stem sector are an enviable part of the city that really establishes us nationally. And Costa Verde is dead center in the middle of this,” he said. “We develop with a particular emphasis on sustainability, community building, placemaking and aesthetics. We think Costa Verde is really the pinnacle of the values that we hold very dear.”
It’s a dramatic change from the existing center, built in 1989 and best known for its McDonald’s, Chevron and Bristol Farms. Only the fast food joint and the gas station will remain untouched with the rest of the property reconfigured. Retail shops will be concentrated in the south, office buildings located in the core and the hotel situated at the north end of the property. The project cost was not disclosed, but an earlier version of the project, prior to Alexandria’s involvement, was pegged at $230 million, meaning the current iteration will be substantially more expensive to build.
Council members applauded Regency for reworking its plan over the years and recognized the project’s direct connection to transit.
“It’s a great example of what can happen when you have developers like Regency and Alexandria … work together with the community to create an excellent project,” said Councilwoman Barbara Bry.
Public speakers, including labor union representatives, were largely in favor of the revitalization effort, although a few members of the University City Community Planning Group appealed to council members to require the developers to add a four-way cycle track on the south side of Nobel. Regency executive John Murphy said the bike facility was currently impractical because it is expected to be analyzed in a future city plan.
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