The retail industry is a popular commercial service in California; in San Diego, over 70,000 residents are employed in the retail sector. There are a number of retail centers in the city and these range from local brands to major retailers, like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Neiman Marcus. Outdoor retail centers are popular in San Diego, because residents prefer shopping while enjoying the scenery. Its shopping centers also have a distinct range of designs that are inspired by California’s tropical climate.

Given the city’s high demand for retail, there are a number of commercial contractors in San Diego that construct quality boutiques, specialty stores, and malls. This article enumerates the best retail contractors that San Diego has to offer. They have been evaluated on their experience, portfolio, and awards. Although not all of these builders specialize in retail construction, their best projects are all from the retail sector.

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8) Bycor General Contractors

6490 Marindustry Pl., San Diego, CA 92121

Rich Byer and Scott Kaats founded Bycor General Contractors in 1981; the firm has since become a leader in San Diego’s commercial construction industry. In its 38 years of service, the firm has grown to more than 100 industry professionals, who specialize in a variety of commercial services. The firm’s nurturing culture led it to be named one of the Best Places to Work by the San Diego Business Journal. In addition, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties named the company Contractor of the Year.

One of Bycor General Contractors’ major retail projects in San Diego was the renovation of The Shops at La Jolla. Bycor added three single-story masonry and wood frame buildings that amounted to 44,000 square feet.


7) Jaime Partners Builders and Construction Managers

925 B St. Suite #601, San Diego, CA 92101

Established in 2002, Jaime Partners is a group of builders and construction managers specializing in lifestyle commercial projects. The firm was founded by Alfredo Jaime, who worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years. This experience gave him a creative eye for restaurant and retail architecture. Locale Magazine has called the firm one of the most innovative construction agencies because Jaime strives to translate the client’s vision. The firm ensures that every project is unique.

Duty-Free partnered with the firm to create a MAC Cosmetics boutique in the San Diego International Airport. Jaime Partners worked with designers from its headquarters in Miami and Barcelona to create a stunning build-out.


6) Pacific Building Group

9752 Aspen Creek Ct. Suite #150, San Diego, CA 92126

Founder Greg Rogers developed competence in a wide array of commercial construction at an early age. This inspired him to establish tenant-improvement specialist Pacific Interior Systems (PIS) in 1968. In 2001, PIS was merged with its general construction division and corporate facilities, leading to the establishment of Pacific Building Group. Recently, San Diego Business Journals has named it one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies.

The firm is known in San Diego because of its active community involvement. It has also constructed some of the city’s essential buildings. One of its notable projects is the Torrey Corner Retail Center. The 24,000-square-foot retail center has restaurants, medical offices, and a Bank of America.


5) Elan General Contracting

3111 N Camino Del Rio Suite #400, San Diego, CA 92108

San Diego-based Elan General Contracting is a retail contractor with national experience, completing projects in 43 states. Founder Adrian Johnson has 38 years of experience in retail design and, since the firm’s inception, Reyes has worked on over 3,000 projects all over the nation. Elan is one of the few contractors in San Diego that specialize in rollouts.  For this reason, Elan is popular among trade publications such as BoardRoom magazine, Retail Facility Business magazine, and Shopping Center Business magazine. Corporate offices are located in San Diego.

Crocs is one of the most distinguished brands with which the firm has worked. Elan has constructed multiple branches of the shoe company. Clients are Gucci, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ben Bridge, L A Fitness, Mrs Fields Cookies, Travis Mathew, Brighton and dozens more. Its SoHo branch in New York City is an impressive project because the firm was able to construct a contemporary three-story store in a residential lot. ELAN’s mission statement is to always Make the Customer look good while adding value for All TEAM members.


4) Shawmut Design and Construction

11390 West Olympic Blvd. Suite #200, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Nationally-acclaimed Shawmut Design and Construction is one of the biggest names in the lifestyle construction industry. During Les Hiscoe’s transition as CEO, he decided to focus more on retail and hospitality projects. Before Hiscoe’s term, the firm only worked on national restaurant chains, but Hiscoe decided to switch to bigger luxury brands. Shawmut has since made a reputation for building the best luxury and specialty retail stores in New York and California.

However, the firm does not restrict itself to luxury brands. Its portfolio also contains fast fashion brands who are looking to build boutiques or simple store build-outs. The firm created the first Topshop branch in San Diego. The branch was located in the Fashion Valley Mall and was 21,000 square feet. It’s a two-story boutique that has floors dedicated to Topshop and Topman.


3) Dickinson Cameron Construction

6184 Innovation Way, Carlsbad, CA 92009

For over 25 years, Dickinson Cameron Construction has been leading the California retail construction scene. The firm specializes in ground-up development of luxury brands found all over the United States. Its creations range from luxury fashion houses in Beverly Hills to mall retail branches. The firm has an elegant and diverse portfolio that includes brands like Cartier, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.

As seen on its portfolio, Dickinson Cameron’s specialty is creating upscale boutiques located in premier shopping spots, like Saks Fifth Avenue and Beverly Hills. The Club Monaco located in Costa Mesa is a chic boutique with a french door that welcomes customers into a simple yet tasteful clothing store.


2) Dempsey Construction

1835 Aston Ave., Carlsbad, CA 92008

Dempsey Construction is the youngest firm in this list, but has already built over 18 million square feet of commercial improvement. Founder John Dempsey has 30 years of construction experience, which has helped his firm cultivate a formidable source of clients from different sectors of the commercial industry. The firm creates upscale renovation and new construction projects that have earned many awards—three 2018 Golden Nugget awards, including an Award of Merit.

The firm’s retail portfolio has a variety of shopping centers located in the San Diego district. The La Plaza Renovation at La Jolla is one of its most impressive projects, thanks to the elegant Mediterranean design that complements California’s sunny vibe. Its interior features tile mosaic flooring and a courtyard that serves as a gathering space for shoppers.


1) Trainor Construction

1925 E Francisco Blvd., San Rafael, CA 94901

Serving the U.S. and Canada, Trainor Construction is a premier retail construction company founded by seasoned contractor Brian Trainor. Trainor has over four decades of construction experience and has handled projects valued over $10 million. Trainor’s hard-earned trade knowledge is clearly translated into his firm, accommodating projects from small local businesses to upscale Fortune 500 companies.

The firm is also one of the few companies recognized by the American Insititute of Architects. All of its creations share a luxurious flair that gives an upscale modern feel. These creations have been recognized by trade publications and organizations. Some of the distinctions it has garnered are the Grand Prize Store of the Year Restoration award from the Association for Retail Environments and a Best Store Design from design:retail magazine.