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Hat tip to Rick the Tuna for sending along this nctimes.com article – an excerpt:

“There’s a lot of entrepreneurs here, a lot of independent thinkers,” said John DeWald, whose company is building perhaps the most visible manifestation of Encinitas’ business future —- the $50 million Pacific Station project under construction on Coast Highway 101, which will encompass five stores and a restaurant on the ground floor, 9,000 square feet of offices on the second and third floors and 47 condo units, also on the second and third floors. All but one of the retail spaces have been leased and 750 potential buyers are on the interested list for the condo units, which are projected to range in price from the “high $300,000s” to $1 million, DeWald said.

“People who live here, shop here,” said Bart Smith, an architect whose office and studio are housed in what used to be a TV showroom, a block off Coast Highway 101.  Smith said Web designers, computer engineers, green-related businesses and other architects are refurbishing old commercial space in the city core, often to create live-work arrangements. For example, a car repair shop off Coast Highway 101 converted second-floor storage space into apartments.

“All kinds of brainiac people are moving in here,” Smith said. The new businesses often subdivide older buildings that used to house one company into units that house several smaller ventures.

Hard-to-measure intangibles also appear to be part of what is drawing businesses to Encinitas.

“People here get involved in the community,” said Justin Faulconer, owner of Falcon’s Bodyboard Shop, which just opened on the northern section of Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas.

Encinitas’ apparent ascension as an entrepreneurial hub defies easy explanation and raises questions about trends in shopping, development policies, the post-recession economy and how Southern California and the nation have changed.

Among those questions: How effective are redevelopment districts and other incentives for businesses?

Many buildings in the older section of the city along Highway 101 have been renovated or restored and yet the city hasn’t declared the older sector of the city a redevelopment district, said Peder Norby, Highway 101 Corridor coordinator for the city of Encinitas. Designating an area as a redevelopment district brings incentives and tax advantages to businesses that locate in such zones.

The coastal city’s success in keeping its older district vibrant is more a factor of its “unique” downtown flavor and mix of small boutique malls along El Camino Real than forgoing a redevelopment district, said Knight, the chief executive of the San Diego North Economic Development Council. Elsewhere, redevelopment agencies have been proven to work, he said.

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