Phase one includes increasing open space with new public park
By Johnny McDonald | Downtown News
Portions of what many consider San Diego’s front porch have recently become construction zones as the Port District moves forward with the first phase of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan. Groundbreaking for the project was held on Jan. 5.
After 15 years of public planning and collaboration, the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan Phase I runs from the Navy Pier to the B Street Pier and will include construction on a portion of West Broadway Street. The estimated cost is $28.6 million.
Following the demolition of buildings that formerly housed the Harbor Seafood Mart and Coral Reef Restaurant, work will commence on a 3.3-acre park located north of Seaport Village. Sidewalks around the perimeter will be closed through early April.
Marguerite Elicone, manager of media services for the Port of San Diego, explained the Visionary Plan encompasses approximately 30 components, including adjusting the boundary of the Port Master Plan to incorporate Navy Pier and adding a youth hostel, additional open public space, a bay front shuttle and new parking facilities.
The Port District is contributing $3.8 million for the park alone, which was allocated in the Port’s Capital Improvement Program. A $3.5 million donation by the Ruocco family will be used for the park’s design and upgrades, including the garden areas.
Construction is expected to be completed at the end of the summer.
As a provider of recreational opportunities for the region, the Port District has developed 150 acres of public parkland along the waterfront of San Diego Bay and the shoreline of Imperial Beach. Ruocco Park will be the Port’s 18th public park.
“Projects of this magnitude and grandeur don’t happen overnight, and don’t happen without a lot of public debate and scrutiny,” said Scott Peters, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners. “But in the end, we got it done because we brought the parties together and found common ground for the common good and for the public benefit. That’s how we get things done here in San Diego, and it’s a better project for it,” he said.
The Visionary Plan Phase I is part of a comprehensive project to beautify the waterfront and create new public space. The project also includes significant improvements to roadways, utilities and storm water systems.
The project will also accommodate transportation options with access to the nearby Santa Fe Depot and trolley stops. The Port of San Diego, City of San Diego and Centre City Development Corporation, on behalf of the Redevelopment Agency of San Diego, worked collaboratively to provide funding for construction and long-term maintenance of the new public spaces and amenities.
In addition to the Visionary Plan, a 105-foot wide esplanade is also being constructed and will adorn the waterfront. The esplanade will have formal gardens, plazas, shade pavilions and a waterfront promenade. It is expected to be finished in two years.
“San Diego deserves a waterfront that links us to our most valuable asset—the bay—and provides public space for residents, visitors and future generations to celebrate our connection to the water,” said City Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer. “The new North Embarcadero is about creating a special place to share a moment; a space worthy of our waterfront that has the power to invoke a shared grandeur across a crowded plaza, yet create a unique, personal memory for everyone who visits.”