VIP Member Spotlight: It’s a Small World for San Diego Real Estate Developer Jacob Schwartz

Local developer Jacob Schwartz

Micro-units can offer big-time experiences. Just ask Jacob Schwartz, the founding president of Urban Coastal Development, one of several San Diego real estate developers embracing the trend. He is the visionary behind Downtown’s most talked about micro-units in the Gaslamp, slated to open in Spring 2022. The hottest perk? Proximity. It’s 10 steps—count ‘em—to the forthcoming Campus at Horton.

Schwartz’s adaptive reuse of 939 Fourth Avenue transforms a mostly vacant office building into 27 buzzy micro-units. At 330-square-feet, the units are geared toward a critical segment of renters: young professionals with a renewed interest in urban, authentic centers, transit-rich locations where walkability is a must. This generation of renters values minimalism and location over splashy amenities and floor plans.

Downtown micro unit developed by Jacob Schwartz

“The Campus at Horton is going to be such a big part of downtown’s new personality,” says Schwartz. “Our biggest amenity is the connection to everything outside our front door.”

If anyone is fluent in the downtown development scene, it’s Schwartz. For the last 20 years, the native San Diegan has helped light up the local building renaissance, driving marketing efforts for Sapphire Tower and Smart Corner while working alongside titans like Doug Austin of the Ballpark District and Nat Bosa, the Canadian developer who elevated San Diego’s skyline and luxury factor.

“I’ve been an eye witness to the power of redevelopment, which has completely revitalized the urban fabric throughout the city,” says Schwartz.

Campus at Horton is not just a reconfiguration of the old Horton Plaza mall. The 1-million-square-foot redevelopment will be 10 blocks of mixed re-use, including a sustainable, high-tech hub in the heart of Downtown San Diego. Horton will be the epitome of a modern office—complete with retail, food and beverage outlets, public park space, and theaters.

Using the latest in mixed re-use and green building practices, the redevelopment of Horton will deliver all the benefits of a new modern building without the environmental impact and costs associated with ground-up construction. The development is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum green building certification and WELL Platinum certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.

It’s also more accessible thanks to the new blue line trolley, which links Tijuana and Downtown to UTC and UC San Diego.

“For the first time in history, all three of San Diego’s main college campuses are connected to downtown. A whole new world of campus housing has been opened,” says Schwartz, an alum of University of San Diego.

Schwartz is lecturer at his alma mater, USD’s Burnham-Moore’s Center for Real Estate. He has a special passion for nurturing the careers of his younger colleagues who are pursuing courses in development and real estate finance. He remains a strong supporter of SDAF particularly to this next generation.

“The more connected you can be to the industry, on both the design front and business development side, the more nuanced your San Diego community can become,” he says. “SDAF unites the disciplines of our built environment.“


Interview & write up by Gillian Flynn, connect with her at

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