SD City Council Approves High-Tech Transformation of Horton Plaza

“You saw the decline of the mall, you saw the decline of the shops," said Diana Tibbs.

The one-time iconic shopping mall, Horton Plaza, will soon be getting a high-tech facelift.

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a revised plan for the mall in the Gaslamp District. The plan called for reducing the retail space limit on the property to make room for high-tech office space that could bring up to 4,000 jobs.

Several landmarks, like the Lyceum Theater, will be spared.

According to the city, "The Campus at Horton" will include 700,000 square feet of modern office space and 300,000 square feet of retail space. Construction is slated to begin later this year and is expected to wrap up by the end of 2020.

“Today’s approval marks an exciting new chapter for the current Horton Plaza property and for the Downtown community,” said Betsy Brennan, President and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. “Just as Horton Plaza reshaped Downtown San Diego more than three decades ago, the Campus at Horton will be a catalyst for growing San Diego’s innovation economy and enhancing the Downtown San Diego lifestyle.”

Horton Plaza first opened in August 1985 and was once considered the crown jewel of downtown. Tibbs started working in Casual Corner one of her first jobs out of high school. Now, 30 years later she works downstairs inside Lyceum Theatre's cafe.

“You saw the decline of the mall, you saw the decline of the shops. And the past 20 years, I’ve seen that,” said Tibbs.

The campus's developer, Stockdale Capital Partners, hopes the retail and office space mix will appeal to Silicon Valley technology companies.

“Retail itself started to die; our spending habits started to change,” said developer Jimmy Parker.

The developer plans to bring in high tech companies and 3,000 to 4,000 new jobs. Plus a $1.8 billion boost in annual economic activity in the plan's first phase.

“If it's high tech businesses like they have been talking about, we think that is another whole market for us,” said Sal Cicalese, Lyceum Theatre front house manager.

Cicalese wants the redevelopment to include conversations to improve the theater's visibility.

“Because of the sunken entrance, it’s right on the street, you can drive right by it and never see it,” said Cicalese.

“We need to bring the community back to the Gaslamp,” said Tibbs.

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