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Macrobrewer’s Plans Making Some Waves in Beer Community

Podcasts and blogs devoted to local craft beer enthusiasts have recently been buzzing — much of it not enthusiastically — about the newest potential “outsider” to enter San Diego’s bustling brewery scene.

Civic San Diego and the Downtown Community Planning Council are currently considering an application filed by 10 Barrel Brewing, which is looking to open a 10,450-square-foot brewpub at 1501 E St. in East Village. Plans call for expanding an existing unused building to include ground-floor and rooftop dining areas, requiring a neighborhood conditional use permit.

The issue concerning some local beer aficionados is that 10 Barrel Brewing, based in Oregon, has been owned since 2014 by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer-maker, which distributes several long-established megabrands led by Budweiser.

James Alexander, an assistant planner with Civic San Diego, said the proposal will likely be going before the executive board of the downtown project oversight agency sometime after its review by the community planning group, which at press time was slated for Feb. 17. Officials are seeking to get a wide variety of public input before a decision is made, he said.

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One of several craft brewers nationwide that has been snapped up in recent years by macrobrewers out of concern for their sliding market share, 10 Barrel Brewing currently operates brewpubs in Bend and Portland, Ore., as well as Boise, Idaho. Its leaders have said they are looking to test the waters in other beer-friendly cities, including San Diego.

Ultimately, where a business operator hails from has not been the deciding factor in local project approvals, or the ultimate success of the establishment. For instance, there are several popular non-San Diego-based restaurant-breweries with a longtime local presence, including BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Yard House and Gordon Biersch.

What’s sticking in the craw of many San Diego craft-beer purists is that the 10 Barrel Brewing venue is the first brewhouse operation owned specifically by a global macrobrewer to be proposed in the local market. There could be more as other companies are attracted to the region’s beer scene and the definitions of “locally brewed” and “craft beer” keep changing, thanks in part to big corporate acquisitions.

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Blackstone Group Expands San Diego Holdings: When she won her second Academy Award in 1985, the acclaimed actress Sally Field became even more well-known for her acceptance speech, in which she proclaimed to the audience, “You like me. Right now, you like me!” (The sentiment has since been enshrined in pop-culture history as the misquoted “You like me, you really like me!”)

Based on some recent real estate deals with big price tags, something similar can be surmised about one of the world’s largest investment companies: The Blackstone Group really likes San Diego County.

Affiliates of New York-based Blackstone recently completed a previously announced $8 billion acquisition of San Diego-headquartered BioMed Realty Trust Inc., following last year’s purchase of locally based Excel Trust Inc. for $2 billion.

Blackstone in late 2015 acquired a multistate portfolio of 32 apartment properties for $2 billion, which included the 312-unit Avana La Jolla Colony in University City, priced at approximately $94.7 million. Most recently, Blackstone purchased 16 buildings and land parcels, at Pacific Coast Business Park in Oceanside, for $13.5 million, according to CoStar Group.

With about $92 billion in assets under management worldwide, Blackstone (before the latest deals) was already the biggest stakeholder in three stalwarts of the local tourism market — Hotel del Coronado, SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad.

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Spring Debut Planned for Horton Plaza Park: The long-awaited, several-times-delayed, new public park next-door to Westfield Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego is now set to open this spring, though an exact date had not been announced at press time.

A spokeswoman for Horton Plaza Park, which is being operated by the city and mall operator Westfield Corp., said it will have the capacity to host special events for approximately 5,000 people. Plans call for three food-and-beverage pavilions that will have seating and trellis-covered patios.

Food vendors signing on so far include Starbucks, Bruxie and Sloan’s Ice Cream. There will also be an ArtsTix ticket booth for local theaters and attractions, operated by the San Diego Performing Arts League; an “interactive pop-jet” fountain; and 23-foot-tall, color-changing light sculptures.

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New Commercial Venues on Tap: Excalibur Fine Cigars Inc. recently signed a 10-year lease for a 1,380-square-foot space at the Mercado Shopping Center, 11828 Rancho Bernardo Road in Rancho Bernardo. At the same center, Poké Go, described as a healthy and casual eatery serving a popular Hawaiian raw-fish dish, signed a five-year lease for a 1,200-square-foot space.

Send commercial real estate and development news of general local interest to Lou Hirsh via email at lhirsh@sdbj.com.

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