Port projects carrying out district’s 50-year vision

by | Sep 18, 2016 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego’s waterfront is facing a dramatic makeover as a result of key decisions by the port board in the last nine months.

Most recently, the San Diego Unified Port District commissioners approved OliverMcMillan and Sunroad Enterprises to redevelop the eastern part of Harbor Island and the former rental car lots on Harbor Drive.

Earlier they greenlighted the redevelopment of Seaport Village into a mixed-use complex of hotels, shops and tourist attractions; the replacement of Anthony’s Fish Grotto with a Brigantine set of restaurants and bars; and a rebooting of a 45-story hotel proposal behind the San Diego Convention Center.

All this is follows the 2013 approval of a 50-year vision for San Diego Bay and precedes a new master plan expected in the next two or three years.

“The bayfront is coming alive with all these wonderful land uses,” said Port Chairman Marshall Merrifield. “We couldn’t be more excited about connecting that vision with reality.”

Added Port President and CEO Randa Coniglio: “I think we have more going on all at once than we probably have ever had in the port’s history in terms of contemplated development.”

If all projects planned, proposed and approved are built, the port could see billions of dollars in new development and millions more it receives in rent from the state tidelands it oversees.

Some critics say the port should finish its master plan before approving these and other major projects. They call the current approach a continuation of the port’s habit of “piecemeal planning,” reflected in the 38 amendments to the port’s 1980 master plan.

But Jason Giffen, the port’s top planner, said the approach being taken reflects both hopes for the future and the practical side of what the private sector is interested in doing. Ultimately the California Coastal Commission will have to approve a new master plan with all the new developments included.

“We’re able to test ideas by looking strategically around the bay for areas ripe for development, activation or new infusion of planning,” Giffen said.

The port has more than 100  big and small projects and improvements in the works. Here are 19 high-profile ones from north to south (see interactive map for locations) and where they stand.

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