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San Diego Spectrum dominates Kearny Mesa construction

Most of the development in Kearny Mesa these days can be summarized in four words: The San Diego Spectrum.

While many portions of the former General Dynamics 230-acre site have already been built out, numerous new projects, are coming, or are soon to come out of the ground at the Lennar Partners project.

Huge cutbacks in the defense industry made GD flee San Diego during the 1980s. Now, Northrop Grumman Defense Systems Inc. has decided that the old site may not be such a bad place after all. "What goes around, comes around," said Jim Moxham, Lennar Partners senior vice president.

Northrop Grumman will initially take 183,000 square feet of an eventual 233,000-square-foot, $40 million building under construction at the northwest corner of Spectrum Center Boulevard and Ruffin Road. Northrop Grumman plans to occupy the entire building at some future date.

To be sure, Northrop Grumman Defense isn't exactly the kind of business that departed two decades ago. In the 1980s, many of the manufacturing facilities left, never to return. Today it is a military software company that will call what is now known as The San Diego Spectrum home.

Moxham said Northrop Grumman will initially take 183,000 square feet of an eventual 233,000-square-foot, $40 million building under construction at the northwest corner of Spectrum Center Boulevard and Ruffin Road. Northrop Grumman plans to occupy the entire building at some future date.

The building, which will be constructed by a Lennar-controlled entity, is expected to be completed next March. The four-building facility is expected to initially house about 700 employees.

Sunroad Enterprises sold 14 of 39 acres in the Spectrum to KB Home, The William Lyon Co. and Greystone Homes, for several hundred residential units now being constructed.

Sunroad still intends to use the bulk of its remaining land for as much as 700,000 square feet of office development. Calls to Sunroad were not returned, but Moxham said Sunroad appears to be just waiting for the right moment to pull the trigger on the initial phases of that project.

"They're just waiting for the market to get just a little bit better," Moxham said.

Also under construction is a 15,000-square-foot complex for the North Island Federal Credit Union along Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, just west of Overland Drive. The credit union paid $2.48 million late last year for the 1.6-acre piece of land. Construction on the Toby Wells YMCA at Lightwave and Overland roads in the Spectrum footprint is at about the halfway point as well.

San Diego's newest YMCA will include a 12,000-square-foot gymnasium/gymnastics center; four 250-square-foot exercise mind-body studios; a six-lane, 25-yard pool and aquatic facility; a spa; men's and women's locker rooms; an indoor-outdoor walled soccer arena; administrative offices; and a 2,860-square-foot day care center and developmental pre-school for 88 children.

Also planned is a 3,100-square-foot multipurpose room for community meetings and forums, as well as other community uses.

Center spokesman Dick Webster said the project is expected to be completed early in the second quarter of next year.

There also will be a 4,200-square-foot designated basketball court, and a "kid's place" -- a 1,100-square-foot room provided for children in the YMCA's care while their parents are utilizing the facility; and a proposed 3,300-square-foot outdoor play area.

This past spring, DPR Construction Inc. recently completed the new 70,000-square-foot Jack in the Box Innovation Center on Spectrum Center Boulevard in Kearny Mesa. The center features kitchens, laboratories and 35,000 square feet of office space.

Although the rest of Kearny Mesa is pretty well built out, there continues to be strong demand for existing commercial and industrial properties, in the rare instances when those properties become available.

Earlier this year, one such opportunity was the $9.4 million sale of a 50,500-square-foot office building at 9573-9577 Chesapeake Drive to a joint venture of Rancho Esplanade Ltd. and Chesapeake Drive Ltd. Jeff and Dell Dohrman are the principals in the partnerships.

Another sizable sale this year was the four-building, 106,791-square-foot Kearny Mesa Business Center that sold for $10.8 million within the past few months. The buyer was a partnership controlled by Harsch Investment Corp. of Portland, Ore. With this purchase, the Harsch's San Diego regional portfolio is in excess of 1.3 million square feet of office, industrial and retail.

A notable lease in Kearny Mesa was TriWest Healthcare's lease of 16,362 square feet of office space at 9275 Sky Park Court from Arden Realty. The property, leased for 60 months at $2 million, will be used for a health care services and customer services company.

In addition, San Diego Sunrise Management has leased 10,221 square feet of office space at Kearny Mesa Executive Park, 7837 Convoy Court, for six years at $1,084,573.

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