Redevelopment of Navy’s waterfront property in San Diego one step closer


The long-awaited redevelopment of the Navy’s downtown waterfront property cleared its next-to-last hurdle Thursday with the announcement of a settlement between the Navy and the California Coastal Commission.

The commission dropped its lawsuit seeking to reconsider the $1.2-billion, 3.25-million-square-foot plan in exchange for new concessions from the developer, Doug Manchester, former owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Manchester consultant Perry Dealy said the agreement leaves one more legal impediment to starting construction of Manchester Pacific Gateway on the 12-acre site between Pacific Highway, Broadway and Harbor Drive.


The project would include 2.9 million square feet of office space, including a 351,000-square-foot regional headquarters for the Navy, 1,375 hotel rooms, a 40,000-square-foot museum, 213,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, more than 3,100 parking spaces and a 1.9-acre public park.

All would be built on land granted to the Navy by city voters in 1920 and leased in 2006 by the Navy to Manchester for 99 years.

“We’re very optimistic and excited that at this point in the process, we are nearing the ability to actually start it,” Dealy said.

The commission had voted to reconsider the project and sued the Navy and Manchester, saying the original plan adopted in the 1990s was no longer valid.

Under the settlement, Dealy said, changes include locating the museum across from the USS Midway Museum, siting visitor-oriented retail and restaurants on Harbor Drive, pledging to make parking available to the public on holidays and weekends and posting signs directing people to the waterfront.

“A lot of this wasn’t hard to give them,” Dealy said. “Everybody feels positive because these were things important to Coastal. They were public benefit issues they were concerned about.”


Cory Briggs, the attorney representing the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition on the final legal challenge, said he was not impressed by the settlement because it did not add to the 1.9-acre park.

“It’s a worthless, stupid settlement,” he said. “It sounds to me like lipstick on the pig.”

Briggs challenged the project’s compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and a three-judge federal panel is expected to issue a ruling this year. Briggs could still appeal to the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Our primary goal is to get the Navy Broadway Complex returned to the people of San Diego,” he said. “That place should be a big park on the waterfront.”

Twitter: @rogershowley


Roger Showley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.