SAN DIEGO — Hardly a day goes by, it seems, that a city or region does not claim to be the "next Silicon Valley." This city--the state's second largest in both population and land area--is no exception.
The latest event to lend credence to this claim took place recently when San Diego was chosen by the National Science Foundation as one of the sites of four super-computers that will be built at a cost of $200 million over the next five years.
The centers will be built at UC San Diego, the University of Illinois, Princeton University and Cornell University, and should bolster San Diego's efforts to replicate the Silicon Valley experience in California's southernmost metropolitan area, according to Dan Pegg, head of the San Diego Economic Development Corp.
The center at UC San Diego, estimated to cost $100 million over a five-year period, will be operated by GA Technologies, a La Jolla research facility that is a neighbor of the university and specializes in atomic energy. GA Technologies is a subsidiary of Chevron Corp. Another Chevron unit is Chevron Land & Development Co., a Huntington Beach-based firm involved in development of California commercial and residential properties from San Diego to Vacaville.
The super-computer decision not only gave credence to San Diego's claim as a growing high-tech and research and development area, it also took some of the sting away after Austin, Tex., won over San Diego and two other cities in a tight race to attract a super-computer research institute that could help the United States catch up with Japanese and West German competitors.
Pegg and others interviewed for this article believe that San Diego's time as a major technological center has come. It is an overnight success that has been more than 20 years aborning, he asserted.
According to figures compiled by Grubb & Ellis Commercial Brokerage Services, 1985 non-residential construction in the greater San Diego area is estimated to be in the $780 million to $800 million range, a 17% increase over 1984.
Not surprisingly, much of the high-tech, research and development activity is taking place in the so-called Golden Triangle, east of UC San Diego, bounded by Interstates 5 and 805 and California 52 on the south.
Among the major players in the Golden Triangle are Bren Investment Properties, Harry L. Summers Inc., the Naiman Co. and Ernest W. Hahn in the commercial segment, and Bren, the Mayer Group and the Douglas Allred Co. in residential construction.
"This year will see astonishing expansion in the Golden Triangle," predicts George W. Lattimer, executive vice president of La Jolla-based Harry L. Summers Inc. Summers is a Texas native with a long history of development activity in San Diego: He was one of the original developers of Rancho Bernardo and has built thousands of houses in the county. He often dresses casually--in strong contrast to Ernest W. Hahn, his partner in The Plaza at La Jolla Village, whose sartorial taste runs to white shirts and conservative blue suits.
Hahn is the developer of the University Towne Center, one of the most successful shopping centers in San Diego, as well as the Horton Plaza retail project scheduled to open this summer in downtown San Diego.
Lattimer estimated that projects valued at more than $300 million will be started in the Golden Triangle this year, with more than one million square feet of office space and about 1,650 new residential units in the nearly 5,000 acres that make up the area.
"The boom in new office construction will continue this year, with the pace escalating slightly above last year's excellent activity," he said. "The most intense new office construction will take place near the center of the triangle, along the northern areas surrounding the University Towne Center mall."
Among the major projects that will be developed this year in the area:
--The $42-million, 185,000-square foot Hahn/Summers office tower at The Plaza at La Jolla Village. Construction has started on this 10-story building at the northeast corner of La Jolla Village Drive at Genesee Avenue. The tower will be the first of three similar buildings at the 850,000-square-foot project, where a pair of three-story buildings have been completed and substantially leased.
--The 165,000-square-foot La Jolla Gateway II building by the Bren Co.--the same Donald Bren who controls the Irvine Co.--is nearing completion just east of the Hahn/Summers development. Later this year, the Bren Co. is expected to begin construction of La Jolla Gateway III, next to the first two Gateway buildings south of La Jolla Village Drive and east of the mall.
--La Jolla Centre, a 10-story, 145,000-square-foot office building by Oliver McMillan/Nexus at the northeast corner of La Jolla Village Drive and Town Centre Drive. Completion is projected for April, 1986.