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This Upper East Village District Will Be Where all the Cool Kids Live

Written By: Sarah Hood
Photographed By: Bhadri Kubendran IDEA District

Expert: David Malmuth and Pete Garcia
Credentials: Partners and Co-Founders, I.D.E.A District

Q: Tell me your vision for the I.D.E.A District. How did the idea for the project come about?

David Malmuth: We started by considering what San Diego needs to attract this generation of well-educated and highly creative young adults, who are key to building a thriving economy. We noticed that young adults not only prefer urban settings over the suburbs, but also tend to pursue jobs in desirable locations rather than relocate to find the best available jobs. So, we asked ourselves, ‘how do we create a place in downtown San Diego that attracts both talented individuals and the companies that want to employ them?’

Pete Garcia: We decided that we needed a vision to guide us, so we devised the IDEA name, which stands for Innovation, Design, Education and Arts. Our goal for the I.D.E.A District is to develop an innovative community that will produce new jobs in the design and tech industries while providing residents with amenities like entertainment and cultural hot spots and reliable public transportation. IDEA1 is our first mixed-use project in the District, and it will offer a combination of commercial space for an up-and-coming business, a gourmet taco shop and a great coffee place, and unique living spaces like industrial lofts, cool studio apartments, and two-story penthouses.

Q: What sorts of challenges did you face while trying to make IDEA1 a reality?

PG: We needed to convince everyone that IDEA1 was what this market needed, but it was a hard sell at first. San Diego is really a beach town at its heart; it’s never really been a downtown place despite all the development that has been going on in the last few decades. We had to figure out how to develop a community that draws on San Diego’s best qualities and incorporates more of the elements that future residents want, like convenient transportation, community spaces, multiple restaurants and retail, and opportunities for inspiration.

DM: It was also very difficult to convince commercial tenants to move into our District. When we first started out on this project seven years ago, everyone thought we were crazy and businesses were somewhat reluctant to talk with us. We’ve had to actively market to firms based in technology and design to persuade them that if they set up shop in IDEA1, employees would consider it a positive move. Fortunately, we’ve found the perfect partner with Seer Interactive. They will occupy all of the ground floor creative space at IDEA1.

Q: Can you tell me more about how the elements of education and art will factor into daily life at IDEA1?

DM: We’re partnering with Urban Discovery Academy, a K-8 charter school that is located right across the street from us. They produced the artwork for our construction fence. We want to continue to collaborate with the students and draw upon their talents and ideas to fuel the creativity going on at IDEA1. We also plan to work closely with the other schools surrounding the project including City College and the New School of Architecture and Design.

PG: And in terms of art, we believe it’s extremely important to the I.D.E.A District because art is an expression of the soul. We want members of this community to express themselves, which is why we designed spaces within IDEA1 where residents can create and collaborate on projects. For example, we’ve established a gallery on site for local artists to display their work, and the courtyard on the ground floor, called the Hub, functions as a place where residents can devise social events. There’s also a room called the IDEA Box where residents can brainstorm ideas and showcase them on a 10’ x 17’ projection screen. And of course, the project will open with six major public art pieces.

Q: What kinds of people do you want to take up residence within IDEA1?

DM: We want to attract a ‘creative class’—people who are intellectually curious, who are always asking themselves ‘What’s next?,’ who are seeking to make an impact.  

PG: And that includes people from all walks of life. If we wanted an exclusively wealthy clientele, we would have based our project in La Jolla. We’re both pro-social justice and we want the IDEA1 apartments to be home to individuals who will contribute to the community both economically and socially. We want to see our residents use their talents to fight injustice and bring about prosperity for everyone.

Q: How do you hope the I.D.E.A District will transform the East Village community?

PG: Essentially, we’re hoping to bring high-paying jobs and vibrancy to a neighborhood that holds great potential but has been overlooked by developers. We want to transform the Upper East Village from a run-down, formerly industrial district into a prosperous, diverse community where creative minds can gather and develop the next big thing!

Q: Once IDEA1 opens in December, what will be the next step in expanding the I.D.E.A District?

DM: Well, we are working on IDEA2, but we can’t say too much yet… Stay tuned!

Disney Dreamin’: Co-Founder David Malmuth worked for the Walt Disney company for nine years, during which he developed the Feature Animation Building in Burbank and the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City.

Issa (Young) Vibe: Both Malmuth and business partner Pete Garcia sought input from the future residents of IDEA1 by inviting young adults out for pizza to discuss what amenities and features they would like to see in this innovative complex.

895 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101