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commercial real estate investment strong in s.d. – U

San Diego ranks 25th among the world’s top cities for commercial real estate investment, according to a report at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Jones Lang LaSalle brokerage tied the rankings to the amount of investment from the beginning of 2010 through the third quarter of last year. The 30 cities as a group attracted 50 percent of all commercial real estate investment worldwide in those two years, the company said. It’s the first time Jones Lang has compiled such a ranking.

The firm, which released the report Wednesday, said San Diego attracted $5 billion over the past two years and tied with five other cities in Europe, South America and Australia. San Diego’s ranking near cities such as Berlin should not be surprising, given the more than $1 billion spent in 2011 on hotels alone, the report said.

The largest investment went to London at $47 billion and the smallest to Manchester, England, at $4 billion.

San Diego is not now and will not be among the top 30 cities by population in 2020, the report showed. But the first-tier investment cities, including San Diego, will likely be joined by other up-and-coming metropolitan areas.

Among the up-and-comers are 10 cities in China, deemed the fastest-growing in the world. Europe boasts four “mega cities” — London, Paris, Moscow and Istanbul.

The authors believe investor interest will spread to more than 300 cities worldwide, on all continents, and perhaps mean that 50 cities, such as Mexico City and Delhi, India, will represent half the commercial investment in 2020.

“While investors are still choosing to invest in strong, stable and transparent cities, new destinations offer a new world of potential,” said Christian Ulbrich, CEO of Jones Lang’s Middle East, Europe and Asia group.

Eli Gilbert, Jones Lang’s researcher in the San Diego office, said investors may still focus on San Diego in the years ahead and keep it in the top tier of commercial markets.

“The U.S. and San Diego are places where investors want to put their money,” Gilbert said. “It is the safest place to put investment dollars and has a terrific track record despite the recession.”

He said San Diego’s geography obviously limits its potential for growth, but its high-tech industries and institutions should continue to attract investor interest. Currently, he agreed, San Diego doesn’t quite qualify as a first-tier or “gateway” city the way New York, London and Tokyo do.

“As those sectors continue to grow, San Diego is poised to breach that first tier,” he said. “I don’t see that changing at all.”

Gilbert said Tijuana, with its manufacturing base for cars, flat-panel TVs and other products, also figures into San Diego’s long-range outlook “once the crime situation gets resolved a little better.”

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