Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 12
1,000 Downtown Condos for Sale; Another 1,300 Coming on Line in Two Years; Prices Plunging
Prices of downtown San Diego condos are plummeting even as more product gets ready to come on line, says an excellent story in the Feb. 9 issue of the Arizona Republic. The story urges Zonies to consider getting in at low prices (although current prices may well go much lower.) According to the article, there are 1,000 condos for sale in the 125-block downtown area, up from 700 a year ago. Foreclosures abound. Although construction has dropped sharply, and some condos are being converted to other uses, there are still 1,300 coming on line in two years. Some prices are down a good deal more than 30 percent. One condo two blocks from the ballpark is listed at $189,900, down from $289,900 at the end of September. One penthouse that sold for $2.1 million in 2004 is now on the market for $1.2 million. Understandably, the article doesn't touch on major problems for San Diego: 1. the Padres promised to build hotels whose transient occupancy taxes would pay down the ballpark debt. The Padres reneged and sold the land at a fat profit to condo builders, helping to create the vast overbuilding; 2 people walking in the ballpark district realize there are few people living there. The condos are owned by speculators, Zonies, Mexicans, Europeans, and Asians who are in San Diego for a short period during the year, and don't spend money at retail, thus not creating sales tax revenue. They also don't contribute to the local economy in other ways.