San Diego Celebrates Completion of Waterfront Improvement Project

by | Nov 15, 2014 | Unified Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego, the City of San Diego, and Civic San Diego officially marked the grand opening of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan Phase 1 in a public celebration held November 15, 2014.

A community event that featured strolling musicians, performers, food, free boat rides on Flagship Cruises’ Patriot Jet Boat and even a zip line ride along the waterfront gave thousands of regional residents and visitors an opportunity to experience the improvements that the comprehensive public project created.

At the event, younger attendees enjoyed a kids’ zone with an arts and crafts station and had a chance to explore a San Diego SEAL tour vessel. Adults sampled San Diego’s renowned craft beers in the floating beer garden onboard Flagship Cruises & Event’s vessel, California Spirit. Guests also had the opportunity to purchase a variety of fare from food trucks.

The festivities began at noon and culminated in an official ribbon cutting with Congressman Scott Peters, City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City of San Diego Council President Todd Gloria, Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Bob Nelson, Port Commissioner Marshall Merrifield and Civic San Diego Board Chair Cynthia Morgan. The Harbor Police Department’s Honor Guard began the ceremony with an official presentation of the colors.

“Today, opportunity is realized. Residents and families gain a new sense of pride in our world class city, and San Diego gets the waterfront it deserves,” said Mayor Faulconer. “The new Embarcadero is a place for every San Diegan to enjoy. By working together we’ve created something special that will be celebrated for generations.”

The project broke ground in January 2012 and encompassed an area from the Navy Pier to B Street Pier. It also included an area of West Broadway, from North Harbor Drive to Pacific Highway.

A 105-foot wide esplanade was created with formal gardens, plazas, shade pavilions and a waterfront promenade. The project included the construction of a new visitor information center, ticket kiosks for bay tour operators and a gift shop/sundries store. A new café building is also part of the improvements and the Port of San Diego anticipates the new restaurant will begin operating around mid-2015.

The project also included significant improvements to the roadways, utilities and storm water systems, designed with environmental stewardship in mind. For example, a water filtration system was put in place along the bayfront esplanade on North Harbor Drive. This system captures runoff from the street and sidewalks and filters pollutants from the water, allowing only clean water to go into San Diego Bay. Other environmental elements included drip irrigation and drought-tolerant plants in efforts to conserve water. In addition, new signage was installed to highlight some of the environmentally sustainable initiatives that are in place along the North Embarcadero bayfront.

“This project incorporated public access improvements, environmentally-sustainable elements, roadway and traffic improvements and public art,” said Council President Gloria. “The area is now much more pedestrian friendly. It will make people want to stop, have a seat on the waterfront and enjoy the beauty of San Diego Bay.”

The project also includes artwork by Pae White which was seamlessly integrated into the esplanade architecture, blurring the lines between art and architecture. White’s aesthetic vision can be seen in the design of the nine structures on site, including two pavilions, four kiosks, café, information center, and restroom. New signature lighting fixtures, designed by New York-based lighting designer Leni Schwendinger, were installed in the medians along West Broadway. These sculptural light fixtures create a linear destination and support the illumination principles developed with public input throughout the design process. Patterned pavers and a custom stainless steel and wood guardrail system designed by Civitas were added along the waterside promenade.

Groves of jacaranda trees donated by the Village Garden Club of La Jolla enhance the new public areas with color. The group provided 42 of the purple-blooming trees. The project also includes new benches and seating areas.his is a great day for San Diego.”This is a great day for San Diego. The most popular place for people to view San Diego Bay has a new look, and now it’s built for people, not cars,” said Port of San Diego Chairman Nelson. Most popular place for people to view San Diego Bay has a new look, and now it’s built for people, not cars,” said Port of San Diego Chairman Nelson.

“Whether you’re lounging on one of the custom benches, relaxing in the shade of new pavilions or reflecting on the unique public art, you’ll appreciate the care and attention that went into every phase of this project. This waterfront is our front porch and with these improvements, we’ve made it even more of a San Diego landmark. Thanks to the Port’s fruitful partnership with the City of San Diego and Civic San Diego, this area is guaranteed to be a people-magnet for generations to come. This is also a great day for Mayor Kevin Faulconer. As the Second District City Councilmember and the City’s representative on the Joint Powers Agency that oversaw the project, Kevin Faulconer worked for years to make this happen.

The Port, the City of San Diego and Civic San Diego all contributed to the $31.1 million project. USS Cal Builders was the project contractor and the design team, led by Project Design Consultants, included Civitas, Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects, Joseph Wong Design Associates and others.

“Civic San Diego is proud to be a partner is this important public project,” said Chair Morgan. “We look forward to further improvements along the waterfront including planning for Phase 2. It has made this area more welcoming for our cruise ship passengers, residents, businesses and downtown workers and will really put this area on the map as a destination.”

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