CROWDING THE BAY FRONT
The plan for redevelopment of the present Seaport Village is an unfortunate clutter for what could be an attractive entrance to San Diego Bay. The present complex suits that purpose with the low-rise structures and landscaping. It is also a very popular tourist site. The proposed development of high-rise buildings mixed with rows of other mixed of the proposed redevelopment offers little to attract tourists and certainly clutters the view of the waterfront from the harbor.
I can understand the incentive of the Port District to collect more revenue than paid by the present tenants. However, there should be more bay front development for use by tourists and residents, not just a profit-making use of the important site.
The developers sight problems with an earthquake fault that runs under the complex requiring the layout of buildings to be in rows. In an effort to provide an icon for the harbor similar to Sydney and Seattle, a tower resembling a flashlight standing on its end. It is not very impressive.
The present Seaport Village provides an attractive landscape in front of the numerous high-rise buildings on the other side of Harbor Drive. There will be more of these high-rise structures when the 12th Naval District re-develops its property directly behind Seaport Village.
Although I generally oppose interference for new development by the various historic land use advocates, I do object to the proposed use of this prime property at the entrance to San Diego. I hope that the earthquake fault might prevent the high-rise and compact site development. I do believe that the port could maintain a similar use of the land for the benefit of the tourists by renewing most of the original leases into a more profitable plane development.
There must be a number of tourist related enterprises that would be willing to pay a market price for a lease in the present location with some upgrades. If the proposed redevelopment is challenged by legal delays, the present Seaport Village will languish for some time with many of the leases expiring.
With the extensive convention center and hotel construction on the waterfront there has been limited space for other public use. If the convention center expansion and another high-rise hotel are approved, there will be less opportunity to provide general access to this area.
The convention center expansion has been controversial because the convention administration wants it to be adjacent to the present meeting space. There has already been litigation filed on technical matters to delay any further development. There is no doubt that having more space for conventions is good for the San Diego economy and should be the major consideration in choosing an expansion site.
This will continue to be a hot button for the hotels and convention center management plans in conflict with environmental advocates who can delay any project for years. In the meantime, the present Seaport Village appears to be the best use of this site with new leases and upgrades that will increase the revenue to the Port District. Getting more revenue should not be the priority for such a prominent harbor site. The low-rise tourist use of the valuable land should be a consideration and an opportunity for San Diego residents as well as tourists to enjoy the waterfront.