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Tom York on Business: San Diego Office Vacancy Rate Hits 14% as Tenants Weigh Post-Pandemic Needs

By Tom York

April 25, 2024

Times of San Diego

The local area office vacancy rate stood at just over 14% for the first quarter of the year, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s quarterly report Marketbeat San Diego.

Leasing activity “slowed considerably” during the first three months of the year, with net absorption reaching 267,000 square feet, which included renewals.

This compares unfavorably with the 453,000 square feet leased in the first quarter of 2023, according to the report.

The overall asking rent was $3.39 a square foot for the quarter.

“Tenants are actively reassessing their real estate needs, considering work-from-home policies and their short and long-term requirements in the post-pandemic era,” according to the report. “This evaluation is leading to changes in their real estate footprints.”

“After pausing their plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, tenants are re-engaging with the market, seeking higher-quality spaces that align with their adjusted footprints and evolving needs. However, not all tenants in the market will transact in the short term,” the report said. “

The largest tenant requirements in the last three years were driven primarily by tech users, but they have since slowed their growth, requiring less space.


San Diego clinical-stage biotech company Calidi Biotherapeutics has announced the close of a $6.1 million stock offering. The company is developing targeted immunotherapies to fight cancer.

Shares of the business dropped more than 50% on April 16 shortly after announcing the offering.

The share price was trading at 15 cents on April 23. 

It has a buy rating from a number of different analysts who follow the stock.

According to the news release on the public offering, the company said it will use net proceeds from the offering “for working capital and general corporate purposes, and pre-clinical and clinical trials, as well as the repayment of certain debt.”

Industry trade publication Fierce Biotech reported that in September Calidi took the special purpose acquisition or SPAC route to the public market, “loading up with almost $70 million in funds to develop its allogeneic stem cell therapies through to 2025.”

SPACs raise funds through an initial public offering to acquire or merge with a private company. 

SPACs are also known as “blank check companies” because investors in essence allocate their funds to an unknown entity.

“Founded in 2014, Calidi is focused on bringing “a universal cancer treatment to a broad patient population who need access to new treatment options,” according to the website.


And here is a bit of North County news…the Lakehouse Resort, located on the 80-acre Lake San Marcos in San Marco, says its new Brickmans Restaurant & Bar, formerly known as The Grill, will reopen this month.

Dole Packaged Foods is peddling a fashionable handbag made from recycled Pineapple waste, a product that was designed, and manufactured here in San Diego.

In a news release, Dole said it had “teamed” with SoCal designer Rais Case and plant-based leather maker Ananas Anam to make the bad to organic waste, turning the leftover material into functional fashion.

The availability of the bag was announced on April 22 just in time for the annual Earth Day festivities.”

According to the release, the limited-edition Vida Bag is made with a vegan leather alternative created from pineapple leaf fibers scooped up from Dole’s Philippines farms.

“These cutting-edge brands have come together to demonstrate how to make unique pieces that help reduce organic waste in our world.”

“For every ton of pineapples harvested, three tons of pineapple leaves are discarded, making it our job to find ways to reduce and repurpose our waste as much as we can,” said Orzse Hodi, a senior executive at Dole. “In the last year, Dole has been able to achieve an 83% reduction in organic waste in our global operations.”


Apparently. It’s hard to get away from the smartphone, even when camping in the great outdoors.

That’s according to San Diego-based RMS North America, which makes property management systems for the outdoor hospitality industry, which has released its annual State of the Industry Report.

This year’s report examines all adult generations — from Gen Z to Baby Boomers — and offers a glimpse into how each age group approaches camping differently, according to a news release.

Among the findings in the report: “Word-of-mouth and online search remain campers’ primary methods to learn about new destinations, and most campers want to see more tech included in the camping experience.”

Millennials have the highest enthusiasm for tech of any age group at 57%, up from 19% in 2023.

And more than 60% of the campers said email is the preferred method when communicating with a campground.

Connecticut-based rooftop solar mounting provider Enstall says it has become a founding sponsor of the Agile Electrification Project, which is based here in San Diego.

UC San Diego and industry leaders are launching the project “to help protect California’s 17,000 solar jobs by reducing costs and barriers to home electrification,” according to a news release.

The electrification project is starting with research projects designed to improve bill calibration modeling and increase homeowners’ access to incentives.

Enstall says it is “dedicated to supporting continuous innovation and product development to accelerate solar adoption.”


The influential San Diego County Taxpayers Association said this week that it is opposed to the county-wide half-cent sales tax for transportation.

The measure to increase the sales tax by half a cent to fund countywide transit projects well into the future qualified for the November 2024 ballot in Jan.

“The tax measure was created by special interest groups and not SANDAG, the region’s transportation planning agency,” according to a statement published on the association’s website.

“We don’t object to the idea of financing transportation infrastructure. We do object to the experts being left out of the process. Where is the efficiency and effectiveness in that?” said Haney Hong, president and CEO of the association.

The association’s membership ranges from small businesses to the area’s largest corporations.


The joint KUSI-Fox5 television news website is reporting that local upmarket appliance store Pirch has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The company’s stores were suddenly closed about a month ago, the website reported.

According to the website, Pirch lists 1,000 to 5,000 creditors, $10 to $50 million in assets, and $100 to $500 million in debts.

Under Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, a company pays off its creditors after ceasing operations and liquidating its assets.


Finally, this automotive item of note.

Used cars in San Diego are selling 22% faster than the national average of 34 days, according to the latest iSeeCars study that identifies the fastest and slowest-selling cars in the U.S.

San Diego, by the way, ranks No. 5 out of the 50 most populous primary metro areas for fastest-selling used cars.

In San Diego, the average used car sold in 26.6 days in March. The average price was $27,000.

The Audi Q3 is the fastest-selling used car, taking 11 days to sell on average. The average price was just over $20,000.

The Ford Escape is the slowest-selling used car, taking 68 days to sell on average.

“Overall, used cars are selling faster than they did six months ago, suggesting an increasing number of consumers are becoming price sensitive,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst with iSeeCars. “With interest rates remaining high and inflation reducing consumer spending, lower-cost used cars are selling quicker than new models.”

A couple of interesting trends involving the national used car market.

Toyota, Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, Honda and Jaguar are the fastest-selling new car brands.

Honda, Lexus, Toyota, Tesla and Acura are the fastest-selling used-car brands

Eight of the 20 fastest-selling used cars are hybrids, with no electric vehicles on the list.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to

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