Fat City Lofts Development and Solar Turbines Spark a Conflict of Opinions in San Diego

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor With projects such as Horton Plaza, Civic Center Complex and the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, the San Diego downtown area is clearly transforming into an ideal place to live, work and be entertained. Signon San Diego [...]

With projects such as Horton Plaza, Civic Center Complex and the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, the San Diego downtown area is clearly transforming into an ideal place to live, work and be entertained. Signon San Diego raises the question: What about the effects of new development on local industry and high-paying manufacturing jobs?

A clear example is the recent conflict of opinions regarding the new development Fat City Lofts. The residential development located in downtown San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood is just 100 feet away from Solar Turbines, a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. Solar has been at the current location for over 80 years, building gas-powered turbines. The company argues that coexistence with the new residential development is virtually impossible as it could attract an environmental review that could end up costing 1,800 jobs.

The $68.5 million project developed and designed by Jonathan Segal is located on the block bounded by Pacific Highway, Ivy, California and Hawthorn streets. The plan calls for 236,440 square feet of residential and 4,282 square feet of retail and commercial space. Although the two parties were scheduled to debate the subject in front of the Centre City Development Corp, the residential developer requested a delay until January in the hope of reaching a compromise by that time.

Solar Turbines occupies the 670,000-square-foot site bounded by Laurel Street, Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. The factory reminds us of a distant past when factories, warehouses and fishing wharves dominated the downtown waterfront scenery. The landscape has changed though as the area has been transformed into a tourist zone with hotels, promenades and open spaces dominating the scenery.