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Why Companies Are Moving to Downtown San Diego

Easy commutes, walkability, and food trucks—downtown is the new hot spot for companies



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According to real estate firm CBRE, 319,000 square feet of downtown office space is now occupied by companies who’ve moved from the suburbs. The San Diego Union-Tribune and Bumble Bee Foods are a part of that number.

Digital and behavioral marketing companies alone account for many of the companies downtown, which include Cordial, Digital Telepathy, Digitaria, Zeeto Media, Underground Elephant, and Mindgruve. They help big brands email, communicate, and otherwise engage with their customers.

MindTouch, a software company with customers like PayPal, Intuit, and Accenture, is a downtown native. It started out small in the Spreckels Building, but eventually moved to 23,000 square feet at 101 West Broadway. As CEO Aaron Fulkerson says, “A city’s downtown is where the highest concentration of innovators always is.”

Other tenants of 101 West Broadway are EvoNexus and The Vine, both of which mentor startups. There are now 110 startups in the 92101; just two years ago, there were only 68.

A city’s downtown is where the highest concentration of innovators always is.

“Being downtown gives a company a competitive edge in hiring in the tech sector,” says Mike Gulitz, founder and CEO of Jungo. “Many of our staff members take the Coaster or trolley to avoid traffic and stay connected during the commute.”

There’s also a large number of coworking spaces that have expanded or popped up in the last year: Downtown Works, WeWork, DeskHub, and the original Co-Merge. In these offices, individuals or businesses can rent a desk or office as part of a community, cutting down the cost of having their own office space.

“People are moving to downtowns seeking community, experiences, and purpose,” says Jon Slavet, general manager west at WeWork. “More than half of the earth’s population now lives in cities, and by 2020 a majority of the global workforce will be urban millennials. The community developing in downtown San Diego is accelerating a transition to a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.” 

And (work) life is just more exciting downtown. The perks? “Food Truck Wednesdays next to our office [between India and Columbia on B Street], and great access to the Gaslamp and Little Italy for happy hours and team lunches,” says Jonathan Langley, VP of recruiting at NextGen Global Resources. No question about it—downtown means business.

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