Downtown Dynamos

September 29, 2017 Ranch & Coast

Downtown Dynamos

Posted on September 29, 2017

In less than 15 years, downtown San Diego has experienced a revival, driven by visionaries who aren’t afraid to think outside the box to reimagine our beautiful seaside city. The addition of Petco Park to the landscape in 2004 was a major catalyst for renewed interest in the area for developers, business owners, and would-be city-dwellers, breathing new life into America’s Finest City. Now, with a multitude of projects from corner to corner either in the works or recently completed, downtown has become an epicurean force, culture center, and family-friendly destination thanks to the commitment, brilliance, and dedication of the people who live, work, and play in the region. Here, we sit down with a few of the people whose contributions have helped shape the course of the heart of our city.

 


 

Erik Greupner

COO, San Diego Padres

Erik Greupner has witnessed a high rate of residential development and increased occupancy during the seven years he has worked downtown with the San Diego Padres, but the ball club exec still expects to see more. “East Village is poised for exciting growth and development in the years to come,” Greupner says. He thinks the ballpark district benefits from 81 Padres home games, large-scale concerts, and other events at Petco Park. Away from the stadium, you may see him enjoying a meal at favorite downtown restaurants Cowboy Star or Water Grill. But the heart of this city is more than good food and baseball for Greupner. He says his favorite downtown memory is catching a Blues Traveler concert at 4th & B with wife Laura in 2001, long before he held his post with the Padres. Still, it’s probably no surprise that Greupner’s favorite way to spend time downtown is “watching the Padres play at the #1 ballpark in America.”

Downtown Dynamos

Erik Greupner


 

Terryl Gavre

Proprietor, Cafe 222 & Co-Proprietor, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant

Downtown has changed a lot since Terryl Gavre opened Cafe 222 an impressive
25 years ago. Gavre, who’s also lived downtown for 20 years, remembers moving into a warehouse with simple hardwood floors and 20-foot-high ceilings that she converted into a loft. “It was 5,000 square feet and our rent was just $1,400,” Gavre recalls. “Now, that same building has been divided into 16 units and they each pay triple what we did.” She says then it was very “bohemian-ish” to live downtown, versus today, which she describes as fashionable and elegant. “I enjoy walking from one end of downtown to the other, having a glass of wine along the way,” she says. Gavre fondly remembers cruising her old 3-speed bicycle to visit mentor, friend, and developer Bud Fischer, but she’s not overly nostalgic. “I’d like to see more stone, glass, or concrete buildings. Enough stucco already.”

Downtown Dynamos

Terryl Gavre


 

Yehudi Gaffen

CEO, Gafcon

Always a man with a vision, Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen recalls “standing in front of the Star of India in 1978 and dreaming about what the downtown could become.” And much has come to pass since. A founder of Gafcon as well as a principal of Protea Waterfront Development (charged with the Seaport San Diego Project), Gaffen says the biggest change he has seen in the 25 years he has worked here and the 16 years he has lived here is the increase in the number of people who live downtown. “And it’s just the beginning,” he says. Naturally, his favorite downtown activity is “continuing to reimagine the waterfront, especially Seaport.” Gaffen notes that he would also like to see more “comfortable and interesting public streets and alleys” for the residents and visitors to use, day and night. He looks to collaborate with public agencies to work on a cohesive, comprehensive, and connected plan for all of downtown — in particular between the city and port. “No [development] silos.”

Downtown Dynamos

Yehudi Gaffen

Photography by Vincent Knakal

 

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