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SAN DIEGO-A gathering of the top real estate players in the San Diego area held court yesterday at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. More than 200 commercial real estate experts and insiders convened for the second annual RealShare San Diego conference.The event was produced by Real Estate Media, parent company of Real Estate Forum, Real Estate Southern California and GlobeSt.com. Talk of Downtown San Diego’s continuing renaissance and a market becoming increasingly attractive to outside investors dominated the day’s talks.Michael Desiato, group managing director for New York-based Real Estate Media, kicked off the event with opening remarks championing the local market. A Town Hall Meeting moderated by Mark Read, senior managing director for CB Richard Ellis, followed.The panelists agreed that the decline of Downtown San Diego’s condo conversions have been greatly exaggerated. During the hour-long discussion, Gary London, president of The London Group Realty Advisors Inc. was outspoken on the subject.While many critics have pointed to various financing deals as potential pitfalls, London does not see it that way. “Creative financing only takes up a small part of the market,” London said. He also pointed out that the city has undergone significant shifts in recent years, with one of the biggest changes taking place in the industrial sector. “Our community is less and less a traditional manufacturing and industrial area and more and more a high-tech area,” London said.Following the Town Hall Meeting, Richard Kelley, director of the RealShare Conference Series, had a one-on-one conversation with the candid Tony Thompson, chairman and CEO of Orange County-based Triple Net Properties. Thompson is San Diego’s largest office landlord and a titan in the tenant-in-common arena.While Thompson is bullish on the San Diego market, he believes changes will have to occur to continue to entice him to snap up local property. “I believe that rates do have to go up to justify the prices being paid in Downtown San Diego,” Thompson said.Another highlight of the event was the presentation of a RealShare San Diego Lifetime Achievement Award to Peter Hall, outgoing president of Centre City Development Corp. Hall will step down November 30. His successor was named earlier this week. Nancy Graham, the former mayor of West Palm Beach, FL, will take over as CCDC president on December 1.During Hall’s tenure, he presided over the multi-billion dollar renaissance of Downtown San Diego. When asked about his accomplishments, Hall downplayed his role, saying he has “been part of an amazing period of growth for San Diego” and that he merely “made a cameo appearance in the city’s long history and future.”When looking at the changes Downtown, Hall said many people get wowed by all the buildings that have gone up and are under development, but when he looks at the city, he said he: “looks at the feet on the street.” The population Downtown has topped the 30,000 mark during Hall’s presidency.Other highlights over the course of the day included another segment of RealShare’s popular Inside the Real Estate Mind Series. For this segment, Michael Desiato hosted a discussion with George Haligowski, chairman of the board, president & CEO of ITLA Capital Corp. The day also featured concurrent sessions, focusing on condo conversions, investment sales, the TIC industry and a debt & equity update.

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