Construction is nearly complete on a highly anticipated mixed-use project in southeast San Diego.
The Joe and Vi Jacobs Center, being developed by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation foundation, will serve as both a rent-generating commercial property and community center at the hub of the neighborhood when the project is completed as early as this spring.
The 75,000-square-foot multipurpose building will feature office and retail space and serve as an educational center with a 5,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art kitchen and support space, 12,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, and a 2,000-square-foot art gallery.
The $23.5 million center is named in honor of Joseph J. Jacobs Jr. and his wife, Violet, who formed the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to provide an opportunity for area residents to own community assets and, ultimately, give more economic control to people who have a stake in the well-being of their neighborhood.
“My father felt very strongly that the people who live in a neighborhood need to have decision-making powers over what happens in their own neighborhoods and ownership,” said Valerie Jacobs Hapke, daughter of Joseph and Violet Jacobs and board member of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
“You can’t change communities overnight,” she said. “It is a long-term process. You can’t just give them a grant and say, ‘I now want you to be a healthy, wonderful community.’ It doesn’t work that way. We decided to be in this community and have residents work with us 100 percent to make the changes together as partners.”
The foundation plans to phase out its operations and turn over all community assets, including the new center, within the next 25 years.
The goal of the center is to provide a resource and gathering place that promotes learning, celebrates multicultural unity, advances the spirit of entrepreneurship and contributes to the social and economic strength of the Diamond neighborhood, according to Tracey Bryan, spokeswoman for the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
More than 3,000 community residents partnered with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to plan, design, build, lease and own The Village at Market Creek, a 45-acre master-planned community, including the new center and Market Creek Plaza, a retail center. The Village at Market Creek will ultimately become a live-work community adjacent to the San Diego Trolley. More than 800 residential units are planned within Market Creek Plaza by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
Six teams of local residents worked on the Jo and Vi Jacobs Center, including the interior design and landscape design teams.
“Although the process was a little more lengthy, a little more involved, a little more passionate, the outcomes far outweigh the additional time the process has added to the job,” said Charles Davis, project manager for the center.
Davis says the conference space puts southeast San Diego on the map as a destination venue for conventions and other group events.
The general contractor, San Diego-based Diamond Management Inc., a subsidiary of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, broke ground on the project in April 2006. The architect was David Livingston of San Diego-based Salerno/Livingston Architects.
A total of 35 percent, or $6 million, of contract dollars went to contractors in the city of San Diego’s 4th District, where the center is being built. Area subcontractors awarded contracts include Cats Excavating Inc., Comfort Zone, a heating and cooling company, and Larry’s Electrical Service Inc.
More than 70 percent, or $10.5 million, of the contract dollars went to minority-owned contractors.
The Rev. Rickey Laster, an area resident who participates in the local Multi-Cultural Contractors Group and serves as a consultant for the Jacobs Center, says the Market Creek Plaza project and the mixed-use center construction provided current and future opportunities for subcontractors.
“This has become for many builders a resume builder,” said Laster.
Minority Business Contracts
Nearly 70 percent of the construction contracts at Market Creek Plaza were awarded to minority-owned firms. Market Creek Plaza cost $23.5 million to build and brought 200 jobs to the community.
The mixed-use center is located behind Market Creek Plaza on a Euclid Avenue site formerly occupied by an abandoned aerospace factory. And like the center, Market Creek Plaza was largely funded by the Jacobs family.
The unique ownership program for Market Creek Plaza next door could serve as a model for community ownership of a neighborhood asset for the center as well.
Market Creek Plaza, a shopping center on Euclid Avenue just south of Market Street, was developed by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation in a public-private partnership to give residents much needed resources such as a grocery store and a way to invest in the future of their own community.
The center is owned in part by residents who purchased shares in an initial public offering in 2006. Shareholders began receiving their first dividend checks in November.
More than 400 Diamond district residents purchased shares, which represents a 20 percent resident ownership, and another 20 percent stake is held by a small group of philanthropists who formed the Neighborhood Unity Foundation and 60 percent by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.