Go Urban – Little Italy

Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego

Nestled between scenic San Diego Bay and the wonders of lush Balboa Park, Downtown San Diego offers a variety of distinctive neighborhoods, each with its own history, character and lifestyle. Close to 20,000 Downtown residents enjoy living in this scenic and vibrant atmosphere, with homes convenient to the workplace, shopping, education, recreation, entertainment, public transit and more.

Columbia Core
This transportation hub is home to the historic Santa Fe Depot, the second busiest Amtrak rail corridor in the country, and a fast-growing cruise port. Until recently, the neighborhood saw few residents, and was dominated by Class-A office buildings and courthouses. With the addition of residential high rises, the district is developing more of a neighborhood feel.

The waterfront is a major segment of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan (NEVP), which includes landscaping, activity sites and a pedestrian esplanade that will accentuate the bay views and enhance public access. This area is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), the USS Midway floating Museum, the Maritime Museum of San Diego (including the world famous Star of India), and thirty outdoor “Urban Trees”-life-size sculptures of fantastical trees, each designed and fabricated by local artists.

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Core District
Central government, financial and corporate institutions are concentrated in the Civic/Core District. Restoration and revitalization of many of the historic buildings is adding new residential, retail and commercial opportunities in the heart of downtown.

City Hall is here and the historic Copley Symphony Hall and San Diego Civic Theatre integrate arts and culture in this neighborhood. The trolley runs along C Street, a major east-west artery in this district, and plans are in the works to improve this important travel corridor. In the near term, these plans include safety and landscape improvements; in the future, projected plans address the entire public realm of the corridor and its function as a link to essential services.

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Cortez Hill
One of San Diego’s oldest residential neighborhoods was named after the famous El Cortez Hotel, which has been restored and converted into condominiums. Views include Balboa Park, San Diego Bay, the Pacific Ocean and the urban scene below.

Victorian style homes populate the area, along with newer condominiums and apartments. The hill’s topography separates it from downtown’s hustle, yet its closeness makes it a very desirable address for those who want to live on the cusp of an active urban center. Some call it a “suburban” urban environment. The character of this neighborhood is symbolized by the lavender blooms of jacaranda trees that line its streets and “Tweet Street”, the recently completed linear park.

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East Village
Like New York City’s gritty but fast- gentrifying neighborhood of the same name, San Diego’s once blighted warehouse district (the largest of our Downtown districts covering 130 blocks) is undergoing a slow but sure transformation. The change was fueled primarily by the building of PETCO Park, the Padres’ state-of-the-art baseball stadium which opened in April 2004.

Today, visitors enjoy luxury hotels and restaurants, rooftop bars, cafes, boutique shops, galleries, and live music venues scattered throughout the neighborhood. This center of modern urban development is also San Diego’s arts district, spotted with artists’ homes, studios, galleries and shops.

Find out more about the East Village.

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Gaslamp
Redevelopment of this historic district started with the opening of the Horton Plaza shopping and entertainment center in 1985. The 15-block area is the center of downtown’s commercial activity and includes high-rise office buildings, stores, hotels, theaters and restaurants.

The historic Balboa Theatre, one of the oldest performing arts venues in San Diego, was completely restored and reopened as a live performance and conference venue in 2008. Revitalization spilled into the Gaslamp Quarter where Alonzo Horton first encouraged downtown’s redevelopment in the 1870s by building a wharf at the foot of Fifth Avenue to facilitate trade with the area’s retail stores. This neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the 94 structures identified as historically or architecturally significant now house more than 100 restaurants and nightclubs, movie theaters, stores, offices, galleries and lofts.

Find out more about the Gaslamp Quarter.

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Little Italy
With a tag line like “A hip and historic urban neighborhood” you have a lot to live up to. While not on a scale with San Francisco or New York, it has plenty to offer. Historically, Little Italy was home to Italian fisherman. The decline of the tuna industry combined with the construction of Interstate 5 in the 1970s led to many years of hardship. Eventually it experienced gentrification and a renaissance as a restaurant district specializing in Italian food and memorabilia.

Condos, mixed use retail/residential buildings and artist spaces have become popular along with street fairs and farmers markets.

Find out more about the Little Italy.

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Marina District
The district stretches between the waterfront, Horton Plaza and downtown’s office towers and the warehouses and vacant lots evident mid last century are gone. Today this is one of San Diego’s most beautiful and desirable downtown neighborhoods. In 2007 Money Magazine labeled the Marina District as one of the best neighborhoods to retire in.

Choices for homes include high-rise and mid-rise condominiums, apartments, townhouses, live/work lofts and single-room occupancy units in a variety of styles, sizes and prices. Urban parks and outdoor space include the historic Pantoja Park, Children’s Park and the King Promenade. Rich cultural history is here as the Asian/Pacific Thematic Historic District recognizes cultural contributions to the development of this city and the international Children’s Museum reaches out to future generations.

Find out more about the Marina District.

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Community Resource:

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Lisa Ashkins
REALTOR®, MA, CNE
CalBRE No 01764182
619.325.4192 office
619.888.2117 mobile
lisa@gourbansandiego.com