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Cool Streets of North America — San Diego

By Pam Flora, Director, Retail Research, Americas Center of Excellence Research

Retail lives and dies by cool. Concepts connect, build loyalty, and grow by being cool. They also disengage, wither, and die by not being cool.

The same also holds true of retail properties, shopping centers and entire neighborhoods. In the face of e-commerce’s disruptive wake, both tenants and landlords are reacting with creativity and thinking outside of old boxes.

In what has become an “evolve or die” landscape, there is a wave of new retailers that are thriving and that are doing so in surprising places. This trend is not happening in the malls or the urban high streets, it’s happening on what we call the “Cool Streets.”

Explore with us some of the hippest markets across North America in our Cool Streets video series.

First up: San Diego – a city traditionally known for sun and surf and recently recognized as the #1 domestic travel destination in the United States by Money Magazine. Among the assets that earned San Diego this honor are an irrefutable mix of outdoor attractions, theaters and restaurants. San Diego is also considered one of the best craft beer cities in the world.

A few urban neighborhoods comprised of an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafés and cocktail concepts, plus event spaces, art galleries and farmers markets have found themselves at the top of our list of Cool Streets:

North Park holds a reputation as San Diego’s quintessential hipster neighborhood with a collection of dive bars and night clubs, vintage and independent boutiques and coffee houses. However, the neighborhood has evolved to include several upscale eateries and breweries. North Park’s 30th Street was known as the original beer corridor for San Diego’s burgeoning craft brew industry and continues to attract new breweries. ChuckAlek Biergarten, a 22-tap beer tasting venue offering only outdoor seating and sharing a space with a kids play area and urban garden opened in April 2016. The owners of the Smoking Goat opened a remodel of the restaurant’s adjacent storefront as casual eatery One Door North in May 2016. The latest addition to the “brewing boulevard” is North Park Beer Co., which just opened its tasting room this month. The brewery is teaming up with Mastiff Sausage Company. for the restaurant component, which is anticipated to open in the next couple of months.

While the Little Italy is known as the spot to find the best Italian cuisine in San Diego, the neighborhood has become one of the most sought-after destinations for new restaurants in San Diego. In just the past few years, the region’s most high-profile restaurants have opened, including “Top Chef” Richard Blais’ Juniper & Ivy, as well as his chicken-and-egg concept, The Crack Shack. Within the last week, two more celebrity chef-helmed restaurants opened in Little Italy: Giselle Wellman, another former “Top Chef” alum, opened Pacific Standard featuring a coastal-inspired menu. “MasterChef” alum, Nick Nappi and local developer Jim Barone, opened San Diego’s first Italian gastropub in Little Italy, Bar One.

East Village has emerged as one of the coolest neighborhoods in San Diego following the 2004 completion of Petco Park. Today East Village is a neighborhood made up of former warehouses converted into lofts, galleries, restaurants and shops providing a hip urban vibe. Creative food, craft beer and cocktail concepts draw patrons from the overflow of the adjacent Gaslamp Quarter and ballpark events. One of the most creative spaces in East Village is Quartyard, an outdoor park bordered by retrofitted shipping containers offering beer, coffee and food options, a concert venue and dog park. East Village is poised for rapid growth with thousands more housing units and new office/retail space in the pipeline. Two major developments, IDEA1 and Makers Quarter have broken ground in the Northeast end of the neighborhood, which combined will add a total of nearly 1,100 residential units plus shops, restaurants and parks.

Check back here for videos highlighting other hip neighborhoods in North America.

Download our full Cool Streets report to see which other neighborhoods ranked among our top 100.

Pamela Flora[1]

Pam serves as Research Director focusing specifically on Retail across North America. Her primary responsibilities include leading data collection and market analysis efforts for C&W’s Retail Services platform to support thought leadership and client needs. Ms. Flora has 22 years of experience in market research focused on real estate.


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