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Charles Black

Downtown developer strikes out on his own

As a native San Diegan who has a "soft spot for this town," Charles Black has overseen the planning and development of some of downtown San Diego's larger projects, including Petco Park, Ballpark Village and East Village Square.

Black hopes to continue this trend; in October he formed his own development firm, CB Urban Development, which will focus on the consultant and principal side of developing projects.

"This is really the first time I've been out on my own," said Black, a one-time executive of JMI Realty.

While his business is new, Black will continue his track record of involving himself in projects that have a public component to them.

He said he enjoys working as a consultant on public/private partnership projects where there is community controversy, such as Ballpark Village.

"I want to work on projects that will leave communities better than they (developers) found them," Black said, adding that the redevelopment of existing public and privately owned buildings will increase in San Diego moving forward.

This year, prior to forming CB Development, Black served as senior vice president of the Irvine Co.'s San Diego region.

During his short tenure with Irvine, he was responsible for attaining all entitlements for a high-rise office building in downtown, dubbed 700 West Broadway.

The 34-story building, located at the corner of Broadway and Pacific Highway, will include 680,000 square feet of office space and 52,000 square feet of retail.

While he was with Irvine the company also acquired a large portfolio from Blackstone Group (NSYE: BX), which included 17 buildings that totaled 2.1 million square feet. Fifteen of the office buildings are in the University Town Center area of La Jolla, one is in Del Mar and one is in Mission Valley.

Black joined Irvine with the idea that he would be involved in the development of a number of large projects in San Diego. However, following Irvine's failed bid for the Broadway Navy Complex this year, the company decided it would focus attention on acquiring additional properties rather than developing new projects.

That's when Black left the company to pursue his own endeavor.

Currently Black is interested in redeveloping the San Diego Civic Center Complex.

Together with Hines, Clark Construction and the planner responsible for the Ballpark District, Black has formed one of eight groups of developers that submitted a statement of qualification to the Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC) regarding the redevelopment.

The project aims to revitalize the city's civic core by providing smart growth transit-oriented development, opening B Street to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, replacing aging infrastructure and constructing a more publicly accessible City Hall, according to CCDC.

If his group were selected, Black's involvement with the project would include dealing with the community resistance that accompanies redevelopment.

With San Diego currently in a poor financial situation, Black foresees the community questioning why the city needs a new "house" at this time.

The key to satisfying a variety of community concerns regarding a project, according to Black, is to bring all affected parties to the same table and simply listen.

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