‘Alonzos’ share in Downtown’s success

Posted: November 6th, 2015 | Columnists, Downtown Partnership News, Featured | No Comments

By Kris Michell

Before a crowd of more than 700, the Downtown San Diego Partnership honored the very best of Downtown at its 53rd annual Alonzo Awards dinner last month.

Named after Alonzo Horton — considered the father of modern San Diego — the awards reflect Downtown’s growing reputation as an innovation hub, our thriving arts and culture scene, and our distinctive skyline. 

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Vi Kops Humanitarian Award, given to Cox Communications, Father Joe’s Villages, The Rock Church, and Loving Spoonfuls

All 2015 honorees are playing a living, leading role in Downtown’s ongoing renewal. They deserve to be recognized widely as the people, places and projects responsible for fueling Downtown’s revitalization through innovative programs and projects.

Here is a recap of the evening:

Sustainable Business Practices Award: BRIDGE Housing’s Celadon at Ninth Avenue and Broadway is a 17-story, 250-unit affordable housing project that boasts best-in-class environmental design. It covers some of its electrical costs via a 143-foot-tall photovoltaic system — the tallest in North America — while a 2,400-gallon rooftop solar water heating system covers half of its hot water needs. Located amid a wide variety of public transportation options, Celadon also features an eco-roof and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Build Your Business Award: Cisterra Development built the new 16-story facility located at Eighth and J streets. The Sempra Energy headquarters building includes 330,000 square feet of office space, 500 parking spaces, and green building features designed for LEED Gold certification. Sempra’s HQ is also breathing new life into East Village streets during business hours with its more than 700 employees frequenting restaurants and shops in the area.

Made to Move Award: The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is making it easier to access our international airport while reducing traffic flow on surrounding roadways through a series of capital improvements throughout the airport. New rental car locations, shuttles and parking will dramatically reduce traffic, total trips, circulating and idling times.

Innovation Award: Fab Lab is more than a co-working space, it’s a nonprofit that’s shaping the future of Downtown’s innovation district. Fueled by invention, ingenuity and more than $100,000 worth of professional manufacturing equipment, Fab Lab’s low cost workshops and STEM curriculum are a magnet for makers, artists and doers.

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Made to Move Award, given to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Downtown Hero Award: In June of 2015, Downtown’s Property-based Business Improvement District, commonly known as Clean & Safe, was set to expire and our community needed a hero. The city of San Diego, together with thousands of property owners, stepped up to overwhelmingly support the program’s 10-year extension. Because of that support, Clean & Safe launched its new program on July 1 with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm for ensuring the urban center looks its very best for years to come.

Make Your Place Award: Urban Discovery Academy is Downtown’s first K-8 charter school. This $10.5 million state-of-the-sciences school, in the heart of I.D.E.A. district, embraces the spirit of learning and innovation in this emerging neighborhood. There is a performing arts space, a visual arts studio (with a kiln!), silk screening, paper making equipment and a darkroom, topped with a dramatic rooftop playground with spectacular views of Downtown. The school’s design blends an existing classic structure with new construction designed to inject modern architectural elements into the East Village streetscape.

Founder’s Award: Sempra Energy is a Fortune 500 Company, and those companies have options. When Sempra’s lease was set to expire, the company had to decide — would they stay in Downtown San Diego or move elsewhere? But Sempra Energy has always been forward-thinking and sees what’s happening — they doubled-down on Downtown San Diego, relocating to East Village and a new 300,000-square-foot 16-story headquarters, between Seventh and Eighth streets in the Ballpark District, for their 800+ employees.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Some volunteers give time. Some give money. Others give knowledge or professional expertise. David Hazan gives it all, and has for the past 40 years. As the co-founder of the East Village Business Improvement District, a longtime member of the East Village Association and the organization’s current president, David has been a catalyst for change during the East Village’s most transformational years.

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Downtown Hero Award, given to the city of San Diego (Photos Courtesy DSDP)

Vic Kops Humanitarian Award: Cox Communications, Father Joe’s Villages, The Rock Church and Loving Spoonfuls have allied to help communicate and coordinate services to address Downtown homelessness. A multi-phase effort to transform how meals are provided to Downtown’s homeless culminated in the San Diego Meal Service Program, a volunteer web portal and a public service campaign educating the region about how to effectively donate their time and energy to those in need. Together, this coalition of community leaders is redirecting good intentions into positive outcomes for the betterment of Downtown and the entire region.

All of this year’s Alonzo Award winners have followed in the footsteps of Alonzo Horton, making sure San Diego stays both distinctive and ahead of the curve.

 —Kris Michell is the president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a nonprofit, member-based organization that oversees the Clean & Safe program and serves as the leading advocate for the revitalization and economic health of Downtown. For questions or comments, email

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