Downtown San Diego’s Tallest High-Rise
By: Blake Sonuga
January 18, 2019, 4:19 am. PST.
Located at 600 W. Broadway Street is downtown San Diego’s tallest building, One America Plaza (OAP). Designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn Architects, OAP stands 500 ft tall, with 34 floors and 625,000 SF of commercial office space. The main contractor responsible for developing OAP was Shimizu Corporation who completed construction in November 1991.
Why does OAP hold the tallest building title in San Diego?
In 1987, prior to construction of major high-rises in downtown San Diego, the federal aviation administration (FAA), through a city of San Diego land use ordinance presented an advisory circular (AC 150/5190-4A).
The FAA’s advisory circular established a “minimum clear space” requirement, creating the city of San Diego’s land use ordinance which restricts height of objects, such as buildings, in a 1.5 mile radius of San Diego international airport to 500 ft.
OAP was built to the exact height limit restriction imposed by the ordinance, and when the 500 ft high-rise was completed in November 1991, it took the title of San Diego’s tallest building from Symphony Towers, a 499 ft tall high-rise which held the tallest building title from 1989-1991.
With this restriction unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, OAP will likely remain the tallest building in downtown San Diego for a long time. That is, unless a developer is successful in obtaining a variance and presenting a compelling argument to allow thier new high rise to be built above the 500 ft mark.
Ownership of OAP has changed hands a few times since its completion in 1991. The Irvine company, OAPs current owner and landlord purchased the high rise for $300M in 2006. For the 2018 tax year, the county of San Diego assessed OAP’s value at $206M with a tax levy of $2,480,846.70
MTS currently runs the blue and silver lines of the San Diego trolley at the ground level of the building. Some current tenants in the building include: UBS Financial, Allianz Capital, and Allen, Matkins, Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP
Source: The Irvine Company.