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UTC’s Costa Verde Center Converting to Mixed Use

After several years planning and iterations, redevelopment of Costa Verde is slated to start in the second quarter of 2021.

Regency Centers based in Jacksonville plans to demolish the existing retail center that was built in in 1989 at 8560 Genessee Ave. and replace it with a mixed-use project targeting biotech and life science companies.

“The shopping center is ready for its rebirth,” said John Murphy, vice president of investments and development for Regency Centers. “It’s an outdated project. This project turns its back on a neighborhood that grew up around it.”

In partnership with Alexandria Real Estate, Regency would build a new campus that would include 178,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space – the same as the existing center – and add 400,000 square-feet of office space. Most of the office space – about 360,000 square feet – would be for research and development.

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The new center also would include a 200-room hotel and double the amount of parking spaces from 960 to 1,837.

“It’s more cutting edge, more in keeping with what Alexandria has done in the last couple of years,” Murphy said.

Pedestrian Friendly

City planners, in reviewing the proposed redevelopment, said the project “would convert an auto oriented environment to a safe and comfortable pedestrian environment.”

“The proposed project would be the last piece of the puzzle for the area along Genesee Avenue to design and create a cohesive urban environment with direct connections to surrounding uses and transit,” city planners wrote, adding that “the redesign of the center would place less focus on functioning as an auto-oriented commercial center and create a mixed-use environment where walking, biking and transit become viable modes of transportation.”

The goal is to have the new center open by late 2023, Murphy said. He declined to say how much the project will cost.

Tenants

Except for a McDonald’s restaurant at the south side of the 13.9 acre site and a Chevron service station at the southwest corner of the project, all the existing businesses will closed during construction, although Murphy said some will reopen in the new center.

They will include a smaller version of Bristol Farms market.

“They’re going to right-size their space,” Murphy said, going from about 40,000 square feet to about 28,000 square fee.

Less certain is what will happen to the Boxing Club, which leases space on the terraced second floor of the building, and a Barnes & Noble book store.

“The Boxing Club is a great tenant. We will discuss them coming with us in the future,” Murphy said. “The Boxing Club is exactly what we want. It’s unique. It’s local. That’s a negotiation that’s still going to happen.”

Similarly, Murphy said “the book store does well. We like the idea of a bookstore.”

Plans also call for increased restaurant space, including space for a new Draft Republic or other similar restaurant, a dry cleaner, a pharmacy and a post office.

“We will be attracting and providing amenities and services for those who live in the neighborhood today and who will live in the neighborhood in the future,” Murphy said.

Most of the retail space in the redeveloped center will be on the south side of the site along Nobel Drive, Murphy said.

A Biotech Campus

The project will include three office buildings, two research and development buildings surrounding a reconfigured traffic circle.

The office buildings will front Genesee Avenue with connections to the new trolley line with the hotel on the north end of the site near four residential towers being developed by Garden Communities.

Murphy said the renovated Costa Verde will be “a perfectly sized biotech campus.”

Working on the project are DPR as the general contractor, NBBJ architects for the office space, and RDC Architects for the retail space.

Costa Verde will join several other projects in competing for life science and biotech companies, including a life science campus being developed in Sorrento Valley and Sorrento Mesa by Longfellow Real Estate Partners, the redeveloped Horton Plaza by Stockdale Capital Partners downtown, and the recently announced planned development of a life science campus on the downtown waterfront by IQHQ.

Murphy said Costa Verde has an advantage because of its proximity to the University of California San Diego and the trolley stop right at the center.

“The students graduating from UCSD are sought after all over the country,” Murphy said. “There’s great brain power here.” 

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