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Checking In on Seaport Village’s Big Makeover

What’s in store for San Diego’s waterfront refresh

By Elena Gomez

It’s been more than four years since the Port of San Diego Board selected 1HWY1’s Seaport San Diego proposal to redevelop 70 acres in the central Embarcadero, which includes Seaport Village and the surrounding areas between the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the USS Midway Museum.

So, what’s happening with the project? A lot. You just can’t see it. The Port says the project is in the “due diligence and design phase.” From here, it’ll go through an environmental review, currently anticipated for early 2022.

“A project of this magnitude takes a lot of effort and time as well as coordination with multiple stakeholders and agencies,” says Marguerite Elicone with the Port of San Diego.

The team says it will take 18 to 24 months for the Environmental Impact Report to be drafted and publicly reviewed before the project is approved. The California Coastal Commission will also have to certify the project before it can break ground.

In the meantime, change is already beginning to roll into the waterfront area. Mike Hess Brewing, Mr. Moto Pizza, Eats by Sam, and Spill the Beans are just a handful of businesses that have already moved in. By next summer, we can also anticipate a Malibu Farm location to replace Harbor House right on the water.

For existing tenants, the big makeover raises some questions as to what the future holds.

“We definitely love being there,” says Mike McWilliams, owner of San Pasqual Winery, whose tasting room has been a part of Seaport Village for several years. “We’re happy with the way it is, but we would hope to negotiate a spot in the new, renovated property, assuming we would still have a choice waterfront view and that the rents don’t go up too high—that’s my concern.”

Construction isn’t slated to begin until 2025. Once a construction timeline becomes clearer, the project heads will work alongside the Port and the businesses on a transition plan. “The transition plan may include construction phasing and retention of businesses from the existing Seaport Village for Seaport San Diego,” Elicone says. “The Seaport San Diego proposal includes retail and public market components that could provide future opportunities for these businesses.”

It’s a lengthy process for the 2 million-square-foot project, which will feature an expanded and enhanced park and public space, an aquarium, an iconic observation tower, new restaurants and retail, a marine-focused learning center, outdoor fitness areas, and a revitalized fishing basin at Tuna Harbor.

“I personally feel San Diego’s on the brink of becoming one of the greatest cities in the world, and having this opportunity to really help shape that is pretty amazing to me,” said Yehudi Gaffen, CEO of Protea Waterfront Development, the managing partner of 1HWY1.

While Gaffen says the pandemic hasn’t slowed down the development, it has “made us rethink everything in terms of what we’re doing. We believe we can actually have this project become the poster child for a post-pandemic waterfront mixed-use project.”

Seaport Village

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