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New luxury cinema opens in La Jolla, Ritz-Carlton eyes San Diego

This week’s local real estate news


Word on the Street

An artist’s rendering shows plans for Seventh and Market, which includes San Diego’s first Ritz-Carlton hotel | Image courtesy of Cisterra Development
  • San Diego could get its first five-star hotel downtown if everything goes according to a developer’s plan.

    Carmel Valley-based Cisterra Development has proposed a revamp of the block on Seventh Avenue and Market Street that will add a 160-room Ritz-Carlton hotel to the city skyline, a mix of high-end condos and affordable housing, office space and parking. On the ground floor, 40,000 square feet of space has been set aside for a “gourmet grocer,” which Jason Hughes, president and CEO of Hughes Marino, says will be a Whole Foods.

    The plan is still in the early stages and is being reviewed by Civic San Diego, but this is exciting news that the luxury hotelier wants to set up shop in San Diego.

  • The Lot, a new luxury cinema complex, opens in La Jolla today.

    Replacing the former Jonathan’s Market at 7611 Fay Ave., The Lot has seven auditoriums, a café, bar and restaurant ran by Matthew Sramek, who was most recently Chef de Cuisine at Avant. The project is helmed by the team that developed Cinepolis—which operates theaters in Del Mar and Carlsbad that are fitted with leather recliners and have waiter service—so expect upscale movie-watching amenities. A news release from the company says The Lot will screen both the latest box-office hits and independent films.


Hit the Streets

Kettner Exchange is up for an Orchid Award as one of the city’s best new architectural gems. | Photo courtesy of J Public Relations

Have strong opinions about which buildings around town are testaments to great architecture or terrible eyesores? Then you won’t want to miss the Orchids and Onions Awards on Friday, October 1, at the San Diego Museum of Art.

The annual ceremony is like the Oscars and Razzies wrapped into one for local architecture and interior design. Hosted by the San Diego Architectural Foundation, a panel of judges and the public cast their votes for which projects built within the last three years should be deemed an “Orchid” or an “Onion.”

Finalists for the 2015 Orchid Award include Kettner Exchange in Little Italy, the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, and the preservation of a colorful mural that wraps around Restaurant Depot on the corner of Cesar E. Chavez Parkway and Harbor Drive in Barrio Logan. Up for the Onion are the Sharp Rees-Stealy Downtown Medical Center in Bankers Hill, Pier South Resort in Imperial Beach, and Ballast Point’s Tasting Room and Kitchen in Little Italy, which the nominator scathingly called an “abomination.”

If you can’t attend this year, start thinking about what you’d like to nominate for 2016.


Tracking Turnover

What should replace Rama Thai restaurant in the Gaslamp?

Alex Thao announced earlier this month his decision to close two of his downtown Asian restaurants, Saja Korean Kitchen and Rama, and is completely transferring the management of Lucky Liu’s, a dim-sum eatery he opened in 2013.

Rama, a Thai restaurant known for its stone waterfall interior and booths enclosed by drapes, had been on Fourth Avenue between J and K streets—just a block away from the Convention Center—for 13 years. Thao said in a Facebook post he was unable to negotiate a renewal on the lease.

What should replace Rama? We asked three local experts what they’d like to see take over that space. Tell us what you think in the comments.

Troy Johnson

San Diego Magazine Food Critic

"Ironically, I think we need exactly what owner Alex Thao was giving us—Asian food.

"San Diego is farcically underserved for good Chinese food, especially. First, over 11 percent of the county is Asian. Second, the San Diego Tourism Authority announced this year that increasing tourism from Asia, specifically from China, is one of its top priorities. Los Angeles is teeming with incredible Chinese restaurants. Somehow, San Diego has a gaping Chinese food void. Time to fix that.

"Obviously, Thao was doing Chinese food with his Lucky Liu concept in downtown. But for whatever reason, that didn’t work. That doesn’t necessarily mean the need and market aren’t there."


Jason Hughes

President and CEO of Hughes Marino, a commercial real estate brokerage

"I’d say something like Bracero Cocina [Javier Plascencia’a new Little Italy venture], my new favorite restaurant."


Mike Spilky

President of Location Matters, a real estate firm that specializes in restaurant leasing

"This end of Fourth Avenue is very challenging for restaurants. The midblock location, and large 5,000-sqaure-foot space with a fairly limited patio is just not something very desirable downtown with so much competition. I almost feel this space would be better used as a creative office space."

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San Diego real estate news and gossip

About This Blog

San Diego real estate news and gossip, from businesses opening and closing around town, to the neighborhoods that are buzzing with construction and which homes and buildings are being sold and where. Parklets, placemaking, lofts, design, cool workspaces, cool living spaces, big buildings, and tiny homes are things we find fascinating, especially right now in San Diego. The cranes are back in the downtown skyline, and so are many of our sources in the real estate industry, so you might see a heavy bent towards the urban neighborhoods here. But we see you up there, Torrey Pines Mesa. We know about your new companies, institutes, and hidden foodtrucks in office parks and cool cafes on the bluffs. And Del Mar and Carlsbad and everywhere in between. If you see a “For Sale” sign or a “coming soon” sign that we should know about, or just have a question about a building or a place, send an email our way.

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