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Inside the Rapid Growth of San Diego’s Liberty Station

Updated: May 16, 2019

Liberty Station in Central San Diego is attracting strong real estate investment and development.

Liberty Station—a small neighborhood along the coast near Downtown San Diego—is rapidly growing. The market is attracting real estate investment, but the market is near full with few remaining development opportunities. In the current pipeline, there is a boutique hotel and performance venue. The neighborhood is also home to 50 local businesses, 70 entertainment venues and 40 restaurants. The neighborhood and its growth is an example of the demand and evolution in San Diego.

“The real estate investment at Liberty Station is unique because it is a healthy balance of local and national investors and tenants,” Nate Cadieux, senior project manager, McMillin Cos., tells “Many of the retail projects within Liberty Station do not fit the mold of a traditional retail development and as such, it was difficult to generate the development activity through traditional channels. It required a more thoughtful, curated and hands-on approach from the developer to help investors and operates see the vision of what could be.”

Historically, the market has served Navy members, but today the market demographic is much different. “When the Naval Training Center San Diego was closed in the mid ‘90s, the community and the city envisioned its reuse to be a landmark as a community gathering space for our city,” Cadieux. “Liberty Station has been transformed through the thoughtful community input and deep commitment of the Master Developer, The Corky McMillin Companies. Today it has become a landmark of our city’s entrepreneurial spirit and naval history and as such embodies many of the best characteristics of our city.”

Since, real estate investment has helped to transform the market. Investment has been widespread across asset classes. “Liberty Station has a broad mix of uses, which is why it is such a vibrant community,” says Cadieux. “Liberty Station has multiple schools, a community-oriented Church, a neighborhood serving retail center with national credit tenants, a civic arts and cultural district as well as many locally operated hospitality concepts. Each of these uses attract their own community of investors and operators.”

Over the next five years, Cadieux forecasts similar growth and capital interest, especially as the greater San Diego market evolves. “Liberty Station is an ever evolving place, so to some extent, it will never be finished,” he says. “Each individual owner is always looking for ways to improve the guest experience and add value to each of the tenants of the project. We envision this evolution of the place to be a healthy and critical commitment to maintaining the qualities that make Liberty Station an amazing place that celebrates its past, its present and its future.”

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