Secoya on Fifth. Courtesy of Brown Marketing

San Diego’s Middlemarch Fund, created to finance construction for the “missing middle” — buyers who earn too much to qualify for government subsidies but not enough to pay market-rate rents — has invested in the $30 million Secoya on Fifth project, an eight-story mixed-income building on Bankers Hill that will have more than 100 apartments. 

Co-developer the Murfey Co. expects construction to be completed in late 2022.  Bishop Ventures is the other developer behind the project.

The project includes almost 2,800 square feet of retail space, but no parking for the residential units. 

According to one news report, the rental rates for the studio apartments are expected to start around $1,495 per month —affordable for a “low-income” single person earning 70% of the county’s median income, or $59,400 per year. Most of the apartments in the building will be studio units.

Secoya on Fifth was first project to receive an equity investment from Middlemarch, developed by Norwood Development Strategies founder and managing member Debbie Ruane

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Orange County’s hotel sales broker Atlas Hospitality Group has issued its mid-year 2021 hotel sales report, which includes the sales of hotel properties in San Diego County. 

By June 30, a total of 28 properties were sold compared to 10 at the same time in 2020. Total sales in county hit $622 million, up 525% from the same period in 2021. 

The highest priced sale of a hotel in the past six months was the 210-room Hotel Indigo in San Diego’s bustling Gaslamp Quarter. 

The sales tag came to $180 million, according to the semi-annual report

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Meanwhile, speaking of local hotels, the former La Jolla Inn is about to reopen as the Cormorant after a change of owners and extensive renovations totaling $3 million. 

Manoj Chawla, managing member of Oceanic Marina LP, the new owner of the boutique property, said the renovation took three years, in large part due to the impact of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said the reopening of the 26-room property as the Cormorant will feature the launch of Birdseye, the hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 

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Eight-year-old venture-funded startup LawnLove, which bills itself at the Uber of lawn care, has been acquired, and will merge with Austin, Texas-based competitor LawnStarter

Jeremy Yamaguchi, LawnLove founder and CEO, said the merger will “create the largest provider of residential lawn maintenance in the country.” Yamaguchi also said everyone will remain in place after the merger, with no job losses. 

The startup had received funding from such high-level investors as Y Combinator, Alexis Ohanian, football great Joe Montana and TV show investor Barbara Corcoran

Yamaguchi said the lawn care industry has been booming since the start of COVID-19 pandemic.

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The San Diego Tourism Marketing District, the local agency that raises funds to market the city’s tourist economy, says it has allocated $28 million in new funding for fiscal 2022 which started July 1. 

Most of the money — $26.6 million — will be spent by the San Diego Tourism Authority, the region’s very active destination marketing arm. 

An additional $1.6 million will help promote 12 tourism events, including athletic competitions, youth soccer tournaments, food and wine festivals and cultural programs.

According to a news release, the local events are projected generate 115,000 hotel room stays.

Most recent data for the week of July 4 shows San Diego averaged a citywide occupancy of 78.3% and a daily average room rate of $216, which was 13% above 2019’s pre-pandemic rate for the same period.

The $28 million was $4 million less than the $32 million spent last year by the agency.

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San Diego’s fast-growing bioengineering startup Genomatica said it has raised $118 million in a new funding round led by venture capital firm Novo Holdings. The fund-raise brings Genomatica’s total funding to $388 million.

The company reports that its sales this year have reached $48 million. 

The Genomatica website recently reported that it had reached an agreement with food-focused industrial conglomerate Cargill to scale up production of its bio-based butanediol, used in the production of such products athletic apparel and seat cushions, to more than 100,000 tons. 

The new facility will triple its production capabilities when it comes online in 2024.

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Finally, some North County news…The Carlsbad Aquafarm, Southern California’s lone shellfish farm raising Pacific oysters and Mediterranean mussel, says it has introduced a tour and farm discovery walk, which explains the techniques and equipment needed to grow oysters, as well as showing how the farming process protects the natural ecosystem of the lagoon. 

The farm has been in operation since the late 1960s.

Check out the website for details on the “farm” tours.

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 tom.york@gmail.com.

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