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Downtown San Diego - Neighborhood Guide

Downtown San Diego, also known as Centre City, is the city center of San Diego with a population of more than 37,000. Downtown San Diego contains nine different districts and over 4,000 businesses. It’s the hub spot of San Diego providing residents with tons of housing options, restaurants, shopping, workplaces and things to do. Find out what makes Downtown San Diego so unique to San Diego County and an ideal place to explore or live in.

History of Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego wasn’t always the city center of San Diego. During the development of San Diego, what is currently Old Town was the city center. This location wasn’t ideal because it wasn’t in close proximity to water. In 1849, Lt. Andrew B. Gray suggested to William Heath Davis the city center be moved closer to the San Diego Bay to increase trade options. Four more investors agreed and under Davis’ leadership, they purchased 160 acres of land that is now Downtown San Diego. They built a Warf, warehouse and Davis’ home, which is currently a museum. The financial depression in 1951 halted the growth of Downtown San Diego.

In 1867, Alonzo Horton went and purchased 800 acres of pueblo lands in the current Downtown area which added to Davis’ 160 acres. This addition was referred to as the Horton Addition. The old Warf was torn to pieces which he then rebuilt at the end of 5th avenue. He quickly sold property and gave away land for the development of the area which fueled one of San Diego’s real estate booms. People began flocking to the area due to its close access to shipping. Once the transcontinental railroad reached the area in 1885 and the Santa Fe railway station opened in 1887, the city began to flourish.

Some historical spots include the Broadway Pier built in 1913, and the historical landmark Santa Fe Depot which was built in 1913. Electric lights and city streetcars were established in 1886 and in 1912, the Spreckels theatre opened up Downtown. In the 1960s, Downtown San Diego began to fall into a new state of disrepair. Major businesses and stores were moving to the suburban neighborhoods like North Park to escape all of the homeless people and sailors on liberty taking over Downtown. Empty businesses turned into tattoo parlors, bars, and strip clubs. The Gaslamp Quarter that was filled with Victorian Houses were rundown and the streets were filled with trash. In 1975, the city created redevelopment plans for Downtown like building Horton Plaza, reviving the Gaslamp Quarter, building the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park. Today, Downtown San Diego is flourishing, with new high rises being built everywhere.

Geography of Downtown San Diego

The eight different districts of Downtown San Diego include the Columbia district, the west district of Downtown. This area is largely commercial and is currently undergoing redevelopment. Next is the Core District which is the central business district in Downtown. Following is Cortez Hill, which is Downtown’s northeast district that is just south of Bankers Hill. It’s one of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods and is filled with both residential and commercial buildings. The eastern section of Downtown is known as East Village. East Village is an up and coming neighborhood with lots of restaurants, shops, condos and lofts on the rise. The Gaslamp Quarter is the nightlife hotspot of San Diego. This two by ten block section contains bars, clubs, and restaurants and regularly has festivals, events and other sources of entertainment.

Little Italy lies in the northwest district of Downtown and began as an Italian fishing neighborhood. It now contains Italian restaurants, shops, home design stores, residential units and art galleries. Next is the Marina District, which is the southwest district of Downtown. It’s home to Seaport Village, Pantoja Park, hotels, condos, retail and medical offices. The Horton District in central Downtown contains Horton Plaza and the adjacent buildings. Downtown San Diego’s eight different districts are unique and have a lot to offer.

Best Restaurants Downtown San Diego

If you’re dining in Downtown, you’re lucky! Downtown San Diego has limitless options when it comes to food, drinks, coffee, and beer. Whether you want a 5-star restaurant or a delicious burger, Downtown San Diego can cover all of your cravings. Stop by The Crack Shack in Little Italy for some fried chicken, or head over to Hodad’s in East Village for the best burger in town. Visit Salvatore’s Cucina Italiana in Little Italy for fine Italian Dining, or stop by Greystone Prime Steakhouse & Seafood in the Gaslamp district for steaks and seafood. Don’t worry, there are also lots of Asian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Indian and even African food restaurants sprinkled throughout Downtown. There are dessert and coffee options around every corner, and if you want to sample a taste of San Diego’s craft beer, you can stop by Ballast Point, Karl Strauss or Mission Brewery for a local brew. The foodie possibilities are endless in Downtown San Diego!

Shopping in Downtown San Diego

After eating at your favorite restaurant, burn off those calories by shopping until you drop! Downtown San Diego’s shopping options are countless. Head over to Horton Plaza to find your favorite chain stores like Bath & Body Works, Forever 21, Express, Levi’s Store, Banana Republic, or catch the latest movie at the Regal Cinemas. If chain stores aren’t for you, there are lots of local clothing and home good boutiques located throughout all of Downtown. For women’s clothing, you can visit Lolo Boutique, World Dove Boutique, or Be Boutique. For home décor, wander over to Love and Aesthetics, Desegno Italiano, or D3 Home. Downtown San Diego also contains bookstores, toy stores, consignment stores, gift shops and more. You can find all of your shopping needs met Downtown.

Downtown San Diego Demographics

Downtown Population 2016 (via city-data): 37,385

Estimated Median House Sales Price in December 2017 (via SDAR): $810,000

Estimated Median Condo/Detached Sales Price in December 2017 (via SDAR): $541,900

Median Gross Rent 2016 (via city-data) $1,461

Median Household Income 2016 (via San Diego Magazine): $73,756

Downtown San Diego Real Estate

Real estate in Downtown San Diego ranges from condos, lofts, penthouses, and townhouses. Single-family homes are less common in central Downtown but more common around the outskirts of Cortez Hill, East Village, and Little Italy. There are currently lots of developments in construction all around Downtown, bringing more housing options to San Diego residents. Living in Downtown San Diego is inviting to those who enjoy living in a walkable area, having lots of restaurants and activities in close proximity and those who work Downtown. Living in Downtown is exciting and rarely will you find that there is nothing to do. If you are interested in condos for sale in Downtown San Diego or want to sell your condo, contact me at Ascent Real Estate. I can help you buy or sell your next home in San Diego.

Written by Becca Wallace, Ascent Real Estate on February 1, 2018.

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