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Local company going for gold in downtown San Diego

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Local development company Sand & Sea Equity Group has a lofty goal for its new 13-floor, East Village office condominium project, called the Nolan. The company plans to create a building worthy of a gold LEED rating, the second highest rating possible from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The LEED program is a standardized system for determining the level of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility of a building. With help from architect Fehlman LeBarre and contractor Swinerton, Sand & Sea will use design, mechanical and electrical systems, materials and construction methods to make the Nolan a model of responsible building.

"We want to help set the standard for a new generation of earth-friendly development," said Malcolm Davies, principal of Sand & Sea Equity Group. "Downtown San Diego already has many of the systems and resources in place to help us qualify for a LEED rating, so we want to aim especially high with this building."

An artist's rendering of the Nolan, an East Village office condo project set to open in 2009.

Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC) recently won a prestigious Award of Excellence from Urban Land Institute for its Ballpark and Neighborhood Revitalization Project, which encompasses Petco Park and the 60 blocks surrounding it, including the site of the Nolan.

Sand & Sea Equity Group satisfies many of the goals set forth under CCDC's revitalization plan, including developing on infill sites, integrating a mix of uses and effectively utilizing and encouraging alternate forms of transportation.

The Nolan is located within easy walking distance of public transit, including a nearby trolley stop at the convention center. Ace Parking will provide valet and off-site parking service to guests and tenants of the Nolan.

"The Park It On Market parking structure has extra capacity, so we are able to locate our parking off-site and use our infill site to its highest potential," said Davies.

The Nolan will fill in a site next to Hotel Solamar that is currently occupied by a dilapidated warehouse. Sand & Sea will soon secure retail tenants for the ground floor of the Nolan, and the 12 floors above are for sale to office users.

"Through the efforts of CCDC, the city of San Diego, JMI Realty, the Padres and other civic leaders, the new ballpark did amazing things for the revitalization of East Village," said Davies. "The Ballpark District, where our project is located, is absolutely the place to be, with some of San Diego's hottest restaurants, clubs and shops."

Davies said his firm has received so much interest in the Nolan, he expects to be nearly 50 percent sold out when sales start in late July.

Sand & Sea hopes to secure building permits by the end of the year and begin construction in mid-January 2008. The Nolan should be ready for move-ins during the first quarter of 2009.

Each tenant company at the Nolan will occupy an entire floor and enjoy private elevator access.

"All floors will be point access controlled, meaning that people have to enter a specific code to access a certain floor," said Davies. "For companies looking for an exclusive, upscale image, this is a very attractive feature."

Other upscale features at the Nolan include private balconies, floor to ceiling windows and views of the ballpark and San Diego Bay across to Coronado from the upper floors.

"Downtown is finally getting more choices for companies seeking new, cutting-edge office space, and we're able to offer a rare opportunity for those who want to convey an elegant, upscale image, while also demonstrating their commitment to environmental responsibility," said Davies.

Due to the growing popularity of office condominiums in San Diego, Davies said that most potential buyers are already familiar with the concept and benefits of purchasing an office condominium. Several office condominium projects are already available downtown, including Sand & Sea's Nine 2 Five Place in downtown's Core District.

Until recently, downtown offered little new class A office space, but, as evidenced by two new class A high-rise office buildings, Cisterra's DiamondView Tower and Lankford's Advanced Equities Plaza, commercial developers are responding to a perceived demand.

As of the first of this year, CCDC estimated that downtown had 483,000 square feet of office space under construction. Between the two downtown office condominium projects, Sand & Sea Equity Group will be responsible for nearly 100,000 square feet of the downtown office space under development after construction begins on the Nolan.

CCDC reports that downtown is now home to 85,000 residents, and this number has not gone unnoticed by commercial developers.

"Downtown has been amazingly successful at attracting residents, but now it's time to focus on giving those residents more options for working close to home," said Davies. "We're going to see more and more companies moving downtown to be close to their employment base or because it's where the decision makers now live."

Davies believes that many of these companies will want a building, such as the Nolan, that helps them save money, save natural resources and show that they're at the top of their game.

Whitelaw is senior consultant with TW2 Marketing Inc. and public relations and marketing adviser for Sand & Sea Equity Group.

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