Hotel involved in Project Homekey
A San Diego hotel involved in Project Homekey. Image from San Diego Housing Commission video

Orange County hospitality expert Alan Reay recently released his annual 2020-year-end survey of hotel sales transactions in the state. The report is always of interest because of the importance of hotel industry to the state and San Diego economy.

Some highlights of the report:

  • COVID-19 had a “devastating impact” on the number of sales in the United States, except in California.
  • Indeed, California is the only state to record an increase in hotel sales. The jump was 52% statewide.
  • That’s due to Project Homekey, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s sweeping plan to protect the homeless from the COVID-10 pandemic. The program had a huge impact on statewide sales for the year.

Under the program, the state purchased $500 million worth of hotels to help house the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Without those transactions–many purchases coming late in the year—statewide sales would have been off 30%, with dollar volume off 60%.

San Diego hotel sales overall fared OK in 2020, but dollar volume was way down. During the year, 22 hotels were sold, up from the 20 in 2019.  Those 22 sales totaled $300 million for 2020, off 61% in 2019, when sales totaled $767 million. The largest single transaction was the $63 million sale of the 211-room Hotel Palomar.

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Centerplate, the food and beverage supplier to the San Diego Convention Center, said it reached a milestone recently: 1 million meals served to the homeless temporarily housed in the cavernous bayfront meeting space because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The supplier said it prepares several thousand meals daily and has done so since the shelter first opened in April. The massive sheltering effort has protected thousands of the homeless from the full impact of the coronavirus, according to convention officials. And helped boost a sagging local economy, said Centerplate.

The supplier said it has sourced huge quantities of seasonal ingredients from the county’s farms, dairies and markets. Many of the vegetables, for example, come from family owned Moceri Produce, with a typical order comprising 400 pounds of lettuce, 60 pounds of broccoli and 50 pounds of cucumbers. Most baked products for the feeding program are sourced from Poway-based O’Brien’s Boulangerie, the supplier said.

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Local women’s business accelerator and co-workspace provider Hera Hub said it is expanding its services to San Jose, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis in a partnership with CommonGrounds Workplace. The partnership will help educate and boost the success rates of female entrepreneurs, according to a publicist. 

Hera Hub has built quite a track record of starting and scaling a “thriving community” of female business owners, the publicist noted. Over the past nine years, she said thousands of entrepreneurs have benefited from daily workshops, masterminds, and one-on-one mentoring sessions.  The first three locations will take up 800-1,000 square feet within each CommonGrounds Workplace. This is where the accelerator’s many workshops and related activities will be held. 

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Civil litigation defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP has promoted two women as equity partners: The first, San Diego office’s Kristi Blackwell,  leads the firm’s retail, restaurant, and hospitality practice group, which represents some of the largest chain retailers and hotel companies in the country. The second, Lynn Allen in the Phoenix office, is an expert in insurance defense, representing insurers and customers in a wide range of cases, including coverage disputes, bad faith, personal injury and wrongful death suits.

According to a news release, the firm now has three men and five women equity partners, thus becoming more than 62% women owned. The other partners include Robert Tyson, Patrick Mendes, Mina Miserlis, James Sell, Susan Oliver and Cayce Lynch. With 14 offices serving 16 states, Tyson & Mendes says it is one of the fastest growing civil defense firms in the nation.

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Borre Winckel, head of the countywide Building Industry Association, is stepping down from his post mid- year. The association represents 800 companies involved in home construction, according to a news release. “My entire career was devoted to bringing housing costs down,” Winckel said. “Despite my best efforts, the outcome was often a partial decrease in supply and an increase in costs, usually due to well-intended but misguided state regulations.” Winckel said he will continue to lead the organization while working with the BIA board to find his replacement. A search committee has been formed to undertake just that task.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to