Seaport Village Makeover: Hotels, towers, beaches

by | Jun 12, 2016 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

Seaport Village, the quaint 36-year-old specialty shopping center on the downtown waterfront, would get a radical makeover under six different concepts that will be unveiled to the public Monday.

At the request of the San Diego Unified Port District, which controls the tidelands property, the developers, some employing world-renowned architects, have proposed aquariums, beaches, a Ferris wheel and observation tower; food halls, hotels and performing arts buildings; landscaped promenades and plazas; and as many as 2,400 parking spaces.

Seaport Village redevelopment open house

  • When: 3-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday
  • Where: Room 2 of the San Diego Convention Center

Developer representatives will answer questions and share renderings and maps of their proposals with the public. Attendees’ written comments will be collected and summarized by port staff for port board use.

  • Next steps: The port board plans to devote its entire July 13 meeting to the project, when it will hear 20-minute presentations by each team and instruct the port staff how to proceed.

There’s almost anything anyone could imagine for the 70 prime acres of bayfront land and water between the USS Midway Museum and the convention center hotels on the South Embarcadero.

And the level of designers involved has drawn some world famous talent, of the hottest “starchitects” on the planet, including Pritzker Prize architect winner Renzo Piano, the Danish architectural firm BIG and Snøhetta, CQa highly regarded Norwegian architectural and landscape architectural firm.

Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs’ son, Jeff Jacobs, a partner in Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, is associated with one team and AEG, the operator of the highly successful LA Live complex in Los Angeles, is associated with another.

Four of the developer teams propose to redevelop the entire site with a variety of attractions, while the other two want to take on a portion of the site.

The scale and cost range up to 2.5 million square feet and $1.4 billion of development. The port could potentially earn 10 times what Seaport Village now generates in $2.7 million in annual revenue.

The developers said if the approval process proceeds as usual, including review by the California Coastal Commission, construction could begin in 2019 and extend into the mid-2020s, depending on economic conditions. Several emphasized that the proposals are only concepts at this point and the final elements and their design are subject to negotiation with the port.

Seaport Village, operated by Terramar Retail Centers, opened in 1980 on the former San Diego-Coronado ferry landing. With its lease expiring in 2018, Terramar was unable to reach agreement with the port on a more modest redevelopment plan.

Terramar also operates The Headquarters, where the San Diego Police Department was once based, and its lease does not terminate until 2052 decades.

Also staying in place on an existing lease until 2028 is the Fish Market Restaurant on the G Street Mole. The Chesapeake Fish Co. lease is due to expire at the same time as Seaport Village, but it’s teaming up with the developer of the Ferris wheel-food building complex.

The port has not set a deadline for action on redeveloping the site but is planning a July 13 meeting to review the proposals and is expected to insruct its staff what to do next.

For now Port Chairman Marshall Merrifield said the board and staff are “thrilled and honored” to have received such robust bids.

“What a wonderful statement for San Diego that there’s so much interest in participating with all of us on our waterfront,” he said.

Chris Glenn, owner of four Seaport Village shops and leader of the “Save Seaport Village” campaign, said he met with representatives of one team, who promised that nearly half of the 70 or so existing tenants could be accommodated in the new development.

“I’m open to a complete leveling and building something great, as long as it’s done right and has character and charm,” Glenn said, adding his group may endorse one or more plans. “We could love all six of them or none of them or something somewhere in between.”

 

Seaport Village redevelopment proposals

Here’s a summary of each proposal with financial information shared by some of the developers. More details are available in individual developer proposals at the port’s website, portofsandiego.org. The developers stress that these are initial concepts that are likely to be changed to reflect port priorities and economic conditions.

Celebration Place

Size and cost: 718,000 square feet, $700 million

Developers: Manchester Financial Group and Dealy Development

Architects and building contractor: HKS architect and Snøhetta and KTU&A landscape architects; Turner construction

Highlights: 500-room hotel and 2,000-seat performing arts hall; “San Diego Spinnaker” 400-foot gondola ride; Baywalk fine-mesh walking surface extending over the water extending north from the Embarcadero Marina Park North; 200,000 square feet of new retail; 10,000 square feet of “blue” tech and commerce office space; enhanced commercial fishing facilities giving way to recreational boating facilities if the commercial uses move to elsewhere in the bay.

Embarcadero District

Size and cost: 2.4 million square feet, $1.4 billion

Developer: OliverMcMillan

Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Gensler architects and Office of James Burnett landscape architect;

Highlights: Three hotels totaling 1,700 rooms; Seaport Pavilion, 18,000-seat sports and entertainment venue; up to 325,000 square feet of retail and restaurants; 125,000 square feet of “blue tech” and creative office space; Scripps Institution of Oceanography 10,000-square-foot learning center and tidepools; San Diego Symphony 2,000-square-foot performance space.

Ripley’s Aquarium of California

Size and cost: 111,000 square feet on 4.3 acres north of Seaport Village; up to $150 million

Developer: Ripley Entertainment

Highlights: 750,000-gallon shark tank, 200-foot-long moving glide path through acrylic tunnell; 50,000-gallon tank featuring coastal California marine life; 40,000-gallon with tropical fish typical of the Gulf of California; 30,000-gallon tank for stingrays; rooftop event space.

Seaport

Size: 1.2 million square feet

Developer: McWhinney and DJM Capital Partners

Architects: RNL and Tucker Sadler Architects

Highlights: 1,000 rooms in three hotels; 250,000 square feet of maritime related office space with 60,000 square feet managed by Real Office Centers for early-stage companies; 330,000 square feet of retail and restaurants and “The Catch” seafood marketplace; 25,000-square-foot cultural performance venue attached to one of the hotels; 40,000-square-foot Equinox Fitness Club; Kelly Slater Wave first-of-its-kind wave-making pool for surfing covering much of Embarcadero Marina Park North; a recreational marina with a high-diving board.

Seaport San Diego

Size and cost: 1.3 million square feet, $1 billion

Developer: Protea Waterfront Development

Architects and building contractor: AECOM, AVRP/Skyport Studios, BIG; PCL

Highlights: 1,077 rooms in three hotels, including a 225-room hostel and San Diego’s first Virgin Hotel; 178,490 square-foot OdySeaCQ aquarium, designed by BIG architecture; 480-foot ThrillRide “Spire” observation tower incorporating a redesigned Ruocco Park; University of San Diego charter high school; 388,625 square feet of retail and restaurant space including room for about 40 percent of Seaport Village tenants; a floating barge with a giant movie screen and stage; a floating Olympic-sized swimming pool off G Street Mole with additional recreational uses possible once the Fish Market restaurant’s lease expires; Smithsonian virtual reality presentations; and beaches, boating and sports on Embarcadero Marina Park North, connected by draw bridge to the south park and the San Diego Symphony’s planned pops concert stage.

Tuna Harbor Pavilion

Size and cost: 150,000 square feet; $130 million

Developers: Great Western Pacific and Santa Monica Seafood (Chesapeake Fish)

Highlights: 200-foot “San Diego Great Wheel” Ferris wheel on fishing pier or a site north of the pavilion; “Wings over the Pacific Coast” fly-over ride similar to Disney California Adventure’s “Soarin’ over California”; a “dark ride’ for families themed to tell San Diego’s maritime history; several food concepts in the pavilion including a Chesapeake Fish seafood processing, distribution and market facility, Crab Pot restaurant and bar, Klondike Brewing, Alaska Sourdough Bakery, San Diego Creamery and Salmon Cooker.

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