City Council to vote on plan for Horton Plaza makeover

SAN DIEGO -- A $275-million plan to transform Horton Plaza from an underused shopping mall into a high-tech office complex could get the green light as soon as next week.

Many agree that Horton Plaza, once the gem of downtown, is in need of a makeover.

The floundering mall opened in 1985 and now sits with many spaces empty as retailers have left, one after another.

But Stockdale Capital Partners, which owns Horton Plaza, is ready to move on a new plan to transform the mall. New architectural renderings prepared for the company show what a $275-million redevelopment project could look like.

The renderings depict a mixed-use center called The Campus at Horton. It wound include about 700,000 square-feet of office space that developers believe could bring up to 4,000 new high-tech jobs downtown. Project adviser Jimmy Parker said big-name companies are looking to make the move to San Diego.

“San Diego needs to get in the market. That’s why we need to get in there now. Timing is really important. The economy is strong and these companies are expanding, because there is no more room in the Bay Area," said Parker.

But right now, the current retail deed restriction stipulates there must be at least 600,000 square-feet of retail space. The new plan calls for half as much. The City Council votes on the plan Monday.

“This is what’s so important about Monday.  Once this becomes an office project, a mixed-use process, we can actually start signing tenants and hopefully making some announcements of people coming in," said Parker.

Developers say they’re not ignoring retail. They say they’re working to keep current tenants. They also believe the new jobs brought to the area will keep more downtown residents close to home.

“We’ve built a lot of residential, and every morning those residents have to leave their downtown and drive to the north or east to go to work. We’d like them to stay here," said Parker.

If the plan is approved, developers say they are ready to move. They expect the first phase to be completed in late 2020.

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