The view of a building on J Street between 8th and 9th streets.

The Voice of San Diego says Downtown Needs I.D.E.A. District

One of the guys trying to make the IDEA District happen is David Malmuth. He says things are going great. They plan to announce a tenant soon for 6,000 square feet, about 10 percent of what’s available.  Malmuth and his partners need tenants to sign on so that they can get financing to start construction. He says he’ll lock down all the financing in the next 30 days.

Read the article by Scott Lewis in the Voice of San Diego.

Interested in living at IDEA1?
Let us know your interest here and we will reach out to schedule a tour so you can have first dibs on the live/work lofts, penthouses and 1 & 2 bedrooms apartments at IDEA1.
We respect your privacy.

IDEA1 Renderings - IDEA DIstrict San Diego - Live Work Play

Lowe Enterprises, Inc. and I.D.E.A. Partners, LLC Select The Miller Hull Partnership to Design IDEA1

Developers Lowe Enterprises, Inc. and I.D.E.A. Partners, LLC, have selected nationally recognized West Coast architectural firm The Miller Hull Partnership to design IDEA1, an urban mixed-use project with creative office space, apartments and street-level retail.  Located on the full block bounded by E, F, Park and 13th streets, IDEA1 will anchor the I.D.E.A. District, a proposed 35-block area infused with Innovation+Design+Education+Art in Upper East Village.  In addition, The Miller Hull Partnership has chosen IDEA1 as the site of its new San Diego headquarters.

“This is a major step in the evolution of Upper East Village.  Miller Hull is exactly the type of creative, innovative firm that the I.D.E.A. District is designed to attract,” said Mike McNerney, senior vice president of Lowe Enterprises.

The Miller Hull Partnership, with offices in both San Diego and Seattle, has designed many high profile projects in San Diego over the past 10 years and has distinguished itself with more than 250 regional and national awards, including the prestigious American Institute of Architect’s AIA Firm Award, the highest honor conferred by the U.S. architectural community for consistently distinguished architecture.

In addition to IDEA1, current projects include the design of the ‘Africa Rocks’ exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, and the Mesa Community College Cafeteria and Bookstore. The firm has captured worldwide attention for its design of the landmark Bullitt Center in Seattle, targeting Living Building certification.

“The Miller Hull Partnership brings a wealth of knowledge about innovation districts, as the firm has contributed to the transformation of Seattle’s South Lake Union area – where tech firms, biomeds, restaurants, hip residences, and street life are all flourishing – into one of the best examples of how an urban jobs cluster can galvanize the fortunes of underused, formerly industrial downtown areas,” said Pete Garcia, principal, I.D.E.A Partners.  “The Miller Hull team will help us spur the transformation of Upper East Village into a similar jobs engine.”

Norman Strong, FAIA, partner, The Miller Hull Partnership, said, “We’re honored to be selected to join the IDEA1 team.  We followed Pete Garcia and David Malmuth’s I.D.E.A. District concept for several years and have watched with interest as Lowe Enterprises has created a model of sustainability at the County of San Diego Operations Center.  This partnership is a perfect fit for our expertise and culture that stresses collaboration, sustainability, and site-specific design.”

Miller Hull will lease 6,000 square feet at IDEA1, sufficient to accommodate its current staff and allow for future growth.

IDEA1 will occupy a 1.37-acre site, which was acquired by Lowe Enterprises and I.D.E.A. Partners through a 99-year ground lease from the San Diego Community College District.   The five-story, 225,000-square-foot, mixed-use project is planned to include

63,000 square feet of creative office space, 10,000 square feet of street-level retail and eateries, and 218 apartments surrounding a large interior courtyard that will actively engage the corporate and residential occupants and neighborhood.

“IDEA1 will be designed to encourage idea-sharing through flexible, collaborative spaces for both companies and individuals.  Offices will be designed to appeal to tenants at the intersection of design and technology and feature high ceilings with floor-to-ceiling glass, roll-up walls, and configurable spaces. Renters will have access to co-working spaces, a communal kitchen, clubhouse and rooftop pool,” said David Malmuth, principal, I.D.E.A. Partners. “It will be an incredibly dynamic environment for entrepreneurs, creatives, and tech workers who want to live in the center of San Diego’s growing innovation district.”

Groundbreaking of IDEA1 is scheduled for first quarter 2015 with completion in the first quarter of 2017.



About I.D.E.A. Partners LLC

I.D.E.A. Partners is a partnership of Pete Garcia and David Malmuth focused on the creation of the I.D.E.A. District – a unique, urban, mixed-use, 95-acre neighborhood in San Diego’s Upper East Village.


About Lowe Enterprises

Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises is a leading national real estate investment, development and management firm.  Over the past 41 years, it has developed, acquired or managed more than $21 billion of real estate assets nationwide.   Lowe is currently responsible for more than $6 billion of commercial, hospitality and residential assets.   In addition to its Los Angeles headquarters, Lowe Enterprises maintains regional offices in Washington, DC, Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle, Southern California and Northern California.  For more information, visit


About The Miller Hull Partnership

Founded in 1977,The Miller Hull Partnership is an award-winning architecture firm specializing in performance-based design for buildings that actively engage their communities through simple, innovative and authentic designs. Capabilities include architecture, master planning, interior design and space planning. By continually exploring the boundaries of current thought to leverage the latest in technology, materials and cultural context, the firm is widely recognized for timeless designs that elevate the ordinary and provide lasting value for a range of public and private buildings, educational and cultural environments, and residences. For more information, visit



San Diego

IDEA Partners + Lowe Enterprises Made the Short List for Park & Market

Lowe Enterprises and IDEA Partners are on a short list of only three distinguished real estate entities moving forward to Phase II of the process to gain development rights to the site at Park and Market. This development has the potential to enhance the IDEA District’s expanding mixed-use residential ecology in the East Village neighborhood of Downtown. The development team selection will be made prior to year end.

Read the letter from Civic San Diego here.


San Diego is the new Silicon Valley

Find out why entrepreneurs Stephan Goss and Jeff Brice chose to start their businesses in San Diego rather than Silicon Valley. As they put it “San Diego still very much considers itself a small beach town, so it is easy for a successful company to get noticed and get access to resources.” The IDEA District is doing even more to attract the kind of talent these startups are looking for.

Read the San Diego Source article and decide for yourself.

SD night

Local Realtor Says IDEA District is an Ideal Place to Live

“Downtown has created an IDEA district in East Village to create a cluster of housing and commercial areas for technology startups to congregate.”

J. Rob Handley boasts about the future of San Diego. Read his article here.

San Diego

IDEA District is featured in the SDBJ again this week

“High-rises will increasingly be competing with other downtown neighborhoods, especially East Village, to attract those kinds of companies. Two development teams, for instance, have plans in the works for East Village mixed-use projects aimed at bringing design and creative firms to an area known as the IDEA District, a planned community emphasizing elements of innovation, design, education and the arts.”

Read the article by Lou Hirsh.

San Diego Best Cities

Best Places To Launch A Startup In 2014

Thanks to the convergence of economic conditions and consumer trends, we are on the verge of revitalized small business communities across the country.To determine which U.S. cities are the most amenable to the wave of small business owners that will establish local roots in the upcoming year, we have developed a unique set of criteria based on data available within Radius.

Article by Tom Post, Forbes Online
Read the article here.
Candice Lopéz poster

Living the Design Life, Looking Towards the Future

Candice Lopez fosters collaboration and exemplifies the creative lifestyle in San Diego’s East Village.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 12.56.38 PMCandice Lopez is a community leader, world traveler, and talented artist. She has channeled her energy into projects that often involve wide-scale collaboration and address issues both locally and abroad. Last week, we caught up with Candice and were able to hear about her life and work, while also picking up some compelling words of advice.

A resident of downtown San Diego for about 24 years (and a teacher at San Diego City College for more than 20), Candice says that she loves living in the city, and moved here when it was still “pretty edgy.” For her, watching the East Village grow and develop over time has been a fascinating process: “It’s come so far, so it’s been really exciting. I’m really stimulated by living in an urban environment and teaching in it. And the fact that I can walk to work is so great.” Did we mention that Candice lives a whopping five minutes from City College? Her 3,000+ square-foot loft is zoned for live-work and shared by her husband and 12-year-old son, who is “learning to live the loft life.” It was the first loft building that went for sale in downtown San Diego. When she and her husband purchased their ¼ of the somewhat run-down building (much to her parents dismay), they did so with the foresight that the space had great potential – potential that they were fully ready to invest in: “We had the vision where we believed we could take the space and rework it. We pulled the car parts out of the backyard, and really tricked it out over the years. We’re always tricking it out.” They have transformed the loft into a beautiful live-work home, which they utilize to its full potential.

LoFT Collage2.jpg

For Candice and her husband, the loft has become a space that they use to “build community.” They often open their home to a variety of visitors, for example, a busload of writers and artists from the Masa Museum who came through recently to see the loft. The Annual AIGI San Diego Y Conference is always a big event for visitors. Candice explains, “It brings international designers, artists, creative people together in San Diego. We often have the speaker parties at our loft, so we create synergy in the East Village. We want to create community and are very into that.” She says that the neighborhood is an ideal starting point for young designers: “It’s a great place to get your feet wet and get started, to be a part of the design community, because it’s a great community.”

Aside from working with artists from outside of her family, Candice also teams up on numerous projects with her husband, who has also taught at City College and for Art Center College of Design. “We’re both busy in our own careers, but we collaborate on a lot of community projects. He travels around the world speaking and painting murals, and I often get to go with him to organize things. I do a lot of writing and designing for him while he does a lot of illustrating for me. We don’t exactly do the same thing, but we’re very compatible in our skill sets.” Together, they have collaborated on projects such as the Urban Art Trail, and BenchMark. They have also worked on a number of murals together, many of which are located in the East Village. They have created a series of murals with children and families from the San Diego Cooperative Charter School. Candice encourages anyone who wants to get involved with local projects to connect with organizations: “I think being a part of organizations that are involved with a lot of public projects is always helpful. I would also tell people to check out the City College Graphic Design Blog. We’re always posting a lot of the dynamic events that are going on in town; community based stuff: Conferences, other things that are going on – so many free lectures and incredible speakers. It’s a great way to socialize and get plugged in with other people and get involved.”

Art collage

When they’re not teaching, traveling, hosting speaker parties, or working on community projects, Candice and her family spend three months each year at their home in the beautiful bohemian town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She describes their second home (located on a UNESCO World Heritage site) as a place where they recharge their batteries: “It’s an incredible bohemian art colony. It’s got really brightly painted, beautiful buildings, painted the color of the earth’s core. You have people from all over the world – musicians, writers, composers, and a ton of artists. We get together with some really amazing people. One of our best friends is a guitarist who played at Carnegie Hall last year, and we would have never met him if we hadn’t been down there. We take a lot of photos. We paint, we draw, we work in our journals. We eat amazing food and I love having that life down there.”

city collage.jpg

No matter where she is, it can certainly be said that Candice puts her time to good use. Currently in the middle of a semester of teaching six classes at City College, she is looking forward to very exciting changes in the near future in downtown San Diego.  On her walking route to work each day, she passes by the city block where The I.D.E.A. District’s first mixed-use property is sited: “It’s between work and home, and every time I walk by the sign, my heart beats a little bit.” She says that the initiative is exactly what the city needs: “I think it’s phenomenal. I’m so excited and supportive because, first of all, it’s getting studio space for artists and designers; the idea of being really innovative and having design, art, education, all of those things mixed together. It’s about creating affordable live-work places. A place is only as good as the people that are there. My husband I have been here for 25 years, trying to help the neighborhood create a sense of place. The I.D.E.A. District is going to be incredible to just generate that fuel – to really be an active part of that, not only bringing people here, but cross pollinating with so many other areas. It’s exciting. I’m so happy, and it’s so close to my house!“

Candice goes on to explain that The I.D.E.A. District will fill a big gap in downtown San Diego: “There are a lot of gaps, and a place like this can help connect the dots. What’s sad is when in so many cases, artists move into a neighborhood, and they make it vibrant, but then they can no longer afford to live there. Then often, other people come in and it becomes homogenized and gentrified, and anything that gives it character is wiped out instead of being embraced and celebrated. Organizations, educators, colleges – these are all the think tanks where things are happening. I want City College to be a big part of The I.D.E.A. District. I see a lot of cross-pollination that could happen – then we get the general public more involved in it. That’s the idea.”

Candice Lopéz poster

Candice Lopéz poster

Keeping in mind the guaranteed influx of young, educated designers, artists and entrepreneurs that are certain to populate East Village as our vision becomes a reality, we asked Candice for some advice: How does someone enter into this new, thriving city, and succeed within the Creative Class? She said that the key is doing what you love: “I would say that for me, design is a way of life. It’s like breathing. I never think of working as a designer like a 9-5 job. I’m extremely passionate about what I do. I’m never bored. I never look at a clock. I live a design lifestyle. If I were to advise someone, I would say follow your passion. Don’t be afraid, have the courage. If you believe in your heart that something is right for you, to go for it. Be courageous, knock on every door, and open everything. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do and find out how they do it. I’m still doing that today.”


By: Julie Riggert
video screen shot

I.D.E.A. District To Revolutionize Downtown San Diego

Tom van Betten shares a new development idea for Downtown San Diego that will produce various jobs and save Downtown from becoming only apartments. I.D.E.A. District (Innovation, Design, Education & Art) 95 acre, 35 city block district that can revolutionize downtown!

IDEA1 Rendering - I.D.E.A. District San Diego - Live Work Play

Innovation District Would Transform Region

“The challenge that leaders face now is how to trigger ‘brain gain’ in their cities. Talent is an incredibly valuable commodity because it is at the core of entrepreneurship and innovation. It’ s the extreme differentiator of all mankind. And talent attracts more talent.” — Jim Clifton, “The Coming Jobs War”


Some 60 years ago a consortium of San Diego civic and business leaders, educators, politicians and voters came together to support the establishment of the University of California, San Diego on what was city land, the former Marine Corps Camp Matthews and adjacent La Jolla property. Despite naysayers — and developers who would have preferred the quick rewards of oceanfront home sales — UC San Diego opened in 1960 with 20 faculty members. Thanks to civic foresight, San Diego has been transformed into a world-renowned biotech and scientific research center, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs have been created on Torrey Pines Mesa.

Today, downtown San Diego is facing a similar once-in-a-generation opportunity that will impact the future of our region in the 21st century — the redevelopment of Upper East Village. It can become a vibrant innovation district that attracts cutting-edge firms, young talent, students and “creatives”; or, it will surely convert — by default — into one more sea of apartments and condos. Sadly, downtown is already becoming a vertical bedroom community — 78 percent of downtown residents commute out of downtown to work. Over the past 15 years, while 20,000 residential units were completed, net job growth was zero. A visionary high-tech business leader is needed now to show that there is a smarter way.

Bringing in the Brainpower

The key to redevelopment success in East Village is creating an ecosystem that supports clean, high-paying jobs and attracts what social scientist Richard Florida calls the “creative class” — the fast-growing, highly educated and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend. Those workers demand an integrated work-life environment with ethnic and cultural diversity and easy access to nightlife, recreation and collaboration. Cities that understand this dynamic — such as Denver; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Ore. — are thriving because they recognize that building a vibrant city is their most effective economic development strategy.

Two and a half years ago, 50 civic and business leaders participated in a workshop that was the first step in transforming a 35-block area of Upper East Village into a sustainable, mixed-use district dubbed the I.D.E.A. District — representing innovation, design, education and art. It has since gained broad-based support. This concept could generate 10,000-plus high-paying jobs and more than 6 million square feet of commercial and residential development, and support a lively scene of restaurants, retailers, galleries and entertainment. The potential for job creation is demonstrated by design and tech-oriented districts in Barcelona, Spain; Boston; and South of Market in San Francisco, where top-end designers and creators can earn six-figure salaries.

Winning the ‘Jobs War’

Jobs are at the core of I.D.E.A. District. In “The Coming Jobs War,” Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, maintains that “the biggest problem facing the world is an inadequate supply of good jobs” and that

“cities must make creating good jobs their No. 1 mission and primary purpose because good jobs are becoming the new currency.”

As Florida recently noted, tech jobs are moving from the suburbs to the city. Clifton and Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, the two authors of “The Metropolitan Revolution,” point to gritty urban locations near institutions of higher education as ideal locales for innovation districts.

San Diego’s East Village already has key institutional anchors that will help facilitate transformation, including The NewSchool of Architecture and Design, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego City College, The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and the new Central Library. It also possesses a combination of physical factors that make it ripe for reinvention — nearby transit, walkable blocks, older underutilized buildings, planned public spaces and land available for development. Perhaps most importantly, full entitlements with appropriate zoning and density are already in place.

The goal of I.D.E.A. District is to utilize these assets to establish a vibrant innovation ecosystem that leverages a rich social environment with thoughtfully designed spaces for living, working, playing and learning. We believe, and the evidence supports, that fashioning a place and a culture that maximizes collisions between diverse, talented people will facilitate serendipity and foster the collaborations that spark new businesses.

The Missing Piece

The migration of technology to downtown has started to take hold. In 2013, 25 percent of the new downtown leases, many of them tech companies, were executed by companies coming from outside of downtown, versus 2 percent in 2010. But the missing piece is a corporate leader who can accelerate the transformation. In Seattle,’s relocation to South Lake Union has produced an extraordinary economic engine; in Las Vegas, Zappos’ move downtown, led by Tony Hsieh, has energized a moribund area with art, food and a vibrant startup scene.

Once a marquee company becomes an early adopter in I.D.E.A. District, satellite businesses will surely follow. But to change the trajectory of Upper East Village from residential to truly mixed-use, a visionary corporate leader is required. The stakes are huge. This prime land and the fashion in which it is developed will have a profound impact on the future and fortunes of the San Diego region, as well as the companies that seize this opportunity.


By Pete Garcia, David Malmuth and Mike McNerney Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pete Garcia and David Malmuth are principals of I.D.E.A. Partners. Mike McNerney is a senior vice president and shareholder of Lowe Enterprises, responsible for commercial operations in San Diego, Orange County and Phoenix.