By Pat Sherman
The Port of San Diego is set to begin $228 million in renovations to San Diego's bay-front Embarcadero (Spanish for "landing place"), the roughly two-mile stretch of coast that encompasses two cruise ship terminals, the USS Midway museum, Navy Pier, the San Diego- Coronado Ferry, Hornblower cruises, the Star of India and the San Diego Maritime Museum.
Earlier this year, the California Coastal Commission approved $29.6 million in first-phase improvements to San Diego's 1.5-mile North Embarcadero area. The project, which begins in January, includes moving Harbor Drive slightly to the east to improve traffic, widening sidewalks and adding a visitor's center, palm trees and public art projects.
A 150-foot park is planned for the east side of Harbor Drive on the former site of Lane Field, a baseball stadium where the Padres played from 1936 to 1957 (currently used for cruise ship passenger parking).
"We have a developer that's going to be building two hotels, restaurants and shops on that corner, and they are providing the park space," says the Port's media relations manager, Marguerite Elicone.
Elements of future phases of the development are still being discussed by a citizens advisory committee and could include a permanent amphitheatre for the symphony pops or a worldclass aquarium. Total planned waterfront improvements, including developer Doug Manchester's private, billion-dollar hotel and office development of the Navy Broadway Complex (just south of the Midway museum), will take about a decade, depending on the availability of funding, officials say.
North Embarcadero Waterfront Renovations
Project Area: 1.5 miles
Estimated Cost: $228 million
First Phase Cost: $29.6 million
First Phase Completion Date: 2013
Ship Out of Luck
New cruise ship terminal is already underwater
As the sparkling new, $28 million cruise ship terminal was opening at Broadway Pier last year, Carnival Cruise Lines announced it would yank the last of its 2,500-passenger vessels from local waterways in April of 2012, resulting in what the Port of San Diego estimates as losses of $54 million in regional spending.
Ship Out of Luck
In 2008, 255 ships docked at the Embarcadero. Today, only 85 ships are scheduled for 2012, says the Port's media relations manager, Marguerite Elicone.
"There's violence in Mexico that has contributed to a lot of the cruise lines not doing as many tours down there," Elicone says, "but we still have ships scheduled for this coming year. Come September,
you'll see them start coming in again, and they'll go to Mexico. We also have ships that go to Hawaii, Alaska and the Panama Canal."
In the meantime, the new terminal is available for private functions-weddings, bar mitzvahs, you name it.
"We also use it as a public space," Elicone says. "The public's allowed to go there and walk out on the pier and enjoy the views."
Unobstructed views of Coronado, that is, without those pesky cruise ships in the way.