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Growing Educational Community Sparks Commercial Development Plans

Planning for Upper East Village commercial development is being spurred in part by growth at schools in that area of downtown San Diego.

San Diego City College has been responding to rising enrollment in recent years by adding significantly to its physical campus space, including acquiring two city blocks in the northern East Village, following voter approval in 2002 of a countywide community college bond measure.

The college has invested or earmarked around $600 million for the ongoing expansion, with four new buildings completed and three others in various stages of construction and planning.

City College President Terrence Burgess said in an interview that the school’s student enrollment grew from 12,000 to 19,000 in the past 10 years, and is projected to rise to 25,000 in the next decade. That will likely increase the need for housing options, as well as dry cleaners, print shops and other elements to support a growing downtown school community.

“It’s good to see this side of the East Village starting to come together,” said Burgess, a downtown resident himself. “There are some scattered projects, but this is the last major part of the downtown that hasn’t been significantly developed so far.”

New School of Architecture and Design, acquired in 2008 by Laureate Education Inc., has seen its downtown campus enrollment rise 25 percent in the past year to 640. President Steve Altman said NewSchool expects the number of students to more than double in the next five years, as it adds to its offerings in programs such as construction management, digital media, and interior and industrial design.

Altman said the school, in the coming decade, will likely need nearby support services and amenities geared to students and faculty. A growing number of young people prefer to live in urban, ecologically sustainable settings, he said, and those coming to the school from elsewhere in the country will want to locate nearby to minimize commuting time.

“In the long run, it could take the form of improving student housing,” Altman said. “You want to create a community that supports the lives of students there.”

A third school, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is expected to open in the area soon.

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