The 10 Most Influential Developers

by | Abr 20, 2016 | Our City San Diego Magazine

The recession was a bummer for just about all of us. However, developers could argue that they took it on the chin among the worst. Prior to the slow-down, a number of big projects were either going up or on the drawing board.

Then …

Big projects couldn’t have come online at a worse time, as buyers and bankers both ran for the hills. A number of condominium projects had to be converted to apartments. Almost all types of building stalled.

Developers may have their distractors — they came up with the strip mall, after all  — but they have had a major impact on San Diego’s growth as a world-class destination. Whether helping develop Mission Bay into a tourist mecca, transforming the Gaslamp district or using Petco Park to re-energize East Village, developers have played a significant role on San Diego’s economy and direction.

Today’s most influential developers are no exception, as current projects promise to shape the region’s future as the economy begins to hum again. Our City highlights the 10 developers who should have the biggest impact on our economy and on the future direction of our growth.

Bosa Developments

Bosa Development, perhaps more so than any other developer, is bullish on the future of San Diego’s downtown.

In February, the San Diego City Council approved its latest venture on the northeast corner of Pacific Highway and Broadway. The 45-story condo will be the tallest building in San Diego and will sit directly across the street from Bosa’s Pacific Gate, which is under construction on the southeast corner of Pacific Highway and Broadway.

Pacific Gate is scheduled to open in late 2017 and is being sold as a super-prime condo, with two-bedroom residences priced from $1.4 million and three-bedroom units priced from $2.9 million.

Manchester Financial Group 

Located across the street from Bosa’s Pacific Gate, is Doug Manchester’s latest project. And it’s a doozy.

The Manchester Pacific Gateway is a $1.3 billion project that will include three office towers with more than 863,000 square feet of combined space, a 28-twin story hotel with 1,090 hotel rooms and an 11-story boutique hotel with 260 rooms; and more than 321,000 square feet of retail space. The complex, which will sit on 13.7 acres between Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive, south of Broadway, will also include a 351,000-square-foot headquarters for the Navy.

Cisterra Development

While the embarcadero is getting the most attention, development continues unabated in East Village. San Diego-based Cisterra Development is reshaping that community more than any other developer.

It developed DiamondView Tower in 2007, an office tower adjacent to Petco Park. More recently, it built Sempra Energy’s 300,000-square-foot headquarters one block north of the ballpark.


L2HP is also helping to reshape East Village. The development team — comprised of Lankford & Associates, HP Investors and Hensel Phelp — is putting the finishing touches on the Makers Quarter master plan. The East Village neighborhood is being developed in stages during the next five years and hopes to be a creative haven for local artists and makers.


OliverMcMillan’s recent $83.95 million sale of EV Lofts in East Village turned heads with its price. But the national development company has left plenty of other marks on San Diego, primarily in areas of restaurants, the entertainment industry and six luxury residential developments. The local company is responsible for Aloft on Cortez Hill, the 168-unit, five-story structure in the heart of downtown.

Corky McMillan

OliverMcMillan is not the only local developer with a long history in San Diego. The Corky McMillin Companies has been a residential development staple in San Diego for more than 50 years, and the biggest mark its left can be found in Point Loma.

In the early 2000s, it transformed Liberty Station from a former Naval Training Center to a mixed-use community with San Diego favorites Corvette Diner and Stone Brewing.

Sudberry Properties 

Sudberry Properties is another long time San Diego developer, having been formed by Thomas Sudberry in 1979. The company has developed dozens of retail properties, mixed use communities, office complexes and apartments across the county. Its projects total 5 million square feet in retail and 3.5 million square feet in office/industrial. It has also built 1,090 residential units and has entitlements for 6,380 units.

It’s latest venture, Civita, is a $2 billion master planned sustainable community in Mission Valley, that is designed as a walkable neighborhood centered around a central park.

Kilroy Realty

Kilroy Realty has been making waves with its own mixed-use property. The One Paseo project in Carmel Valley, will occupy a vacant 23.6-acre parcel of land located on the southwest corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real. It will combine retail, residential space and offices.

But the amount of space it will ultimately take up is an answer in the making. Kilroy Reality has faced a number of redesigns, including downsizing the project to appease residents who fear the project is too large and will create an abundance of traffic.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities 

When it comes to office space, however, another REIT dominates in San Diego. Alexandria Real Estate and San Diego are two peas in a pod. Though it has offices in seven cities across the nation, the REIT started in San Diego and is still based here. Focused on real estate for the life sciences industry, Alexandria has grown even faster than San Diego’s biotech industry, and today is the nation’s largest REIT in its space.

Its largest complex is Illumina’s University Town Center campus, which it owns and operates. That campus opened in 2011 and now has close to 800,000 square feet. Overall, 95 percent of Alexandria’s San Diego holdings are leased, meaning new projects are on the horizon.

Murphy Development

Murphy Development is the largest industrial developer on Otay Mesa. The family-run company has master-planned and developed nearly 9 million square feet in Otay Mesa during the past 30 years, with an emphasis on multiphase corporate industrial and technology parks.

It has three major projects in the works, but its newest project, Scripps Ranch Technology Park, takes the spotlight. Scripps Ranch Technology Park, a mixed-use office space, will have more than 1,000,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, LEED certified buildings.

Press Disclaimer