Downtown. Once home to dive bars, tattoo parlors, sailors and marines, and shuttered retail stores, the change in downtown has been nothing short of revolutionary. Starting in the very late 1970s, a few pioneers began to redevelop the long-neglected center of San Diego. To be sure there were a few good streets, but no sane person ventured below Broadway after dark. By 1982, there were two affordable condominium projects that went on sale at the foot of G Street, showing people really wanted to live downtown in upscale projects. Horton Plaza opened in 1984 and the rest is history. Block after block of parking lots became high rise condo sites and so many people moved in that the neighborhood even got a real supermarket. The area is abuzz with night activity, from the bars in the Gaslamp to Petco Park. It is widely recognized as one of the best American residential downtowns.
The road to real estate riches has been bumpy featuring lots of oversupply and too much speculation. The recent recession has created a more balanced market and in the medium run downtown condominiums will appreciate faster than in surrounding areas. Land and vertical construction costs will mean a limited and expensive supply of new units. Demographics suggest nothing but increasing demand for downtown living. There will be a real price squeeze ahead.