Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

Does the city touch the water? – Rob Quigley

The process began in 1995, when the Port began studying the potential uses of the site we know as the Old Police Headquarters and adjoining Harbor Seafood Mart property.

Even though so few of us lived Downtown at the time, we joined together en masse and showed up to the public comment meeting, the Port’s first-ever public workshops.

Fast-forward eight years. Port Commissioners have come and gone, thousands of new residents have moved into our neighborhoods, development concepts have been presented and denied, and the jewel of our shoreline sits untouched.

Recently, we saw the long anticipated presentations from our country’s best and brightest urban master plan designers. The 800 people viewing the designs were treated to five unique concepts that provoked much thought and conversation.

I rushed over as soon as I could, like an eager child expecting to unwrap all her wishes and desires, so I might view the masterpieces, a design proclaiming Downtown as the new home for the world’s eighth wonder.

I wasn’t disappointed. There, as I walked in, was a dramatic, bold, totally out of the box design, a work of genius. One word unanimously escaped our lips, WOW! A design that people discussed in hushed voices: what are the environmental impacts, what is the cost, is the design too audacious that it won’t be built?

Even though the other designs all had their strong elements, they lacked pizzazz, were uninviting, not cozy, and too much like other Southern California locations. And above all, not urban.

The jury agreed; Sasaki/Quigley won the competition.

Now what? The port staff will present to their board a quantitative analysis of costs, revenues, timing, and more at the June 8 board meeting; the commissioners will vote.

How long will it take to finalize a design? To obtain approvals from all governmental agencies? To find a developer? To earmark funds? Now that we are emotionally touched by a world-class design, can we wait?

I contemplate…How soon will our city touch the bay?

Our neighbors are looking ahead, awaiting the beginning with much anticipation.

Tom Fitzgerald (Park Place) wants the project to move forward quickly by tearing out the asphalt, create green space; he doesn’t want to wait another three years for a blade of grass to be planted.

Christine Gaunt (CityFront Terrace) feels the enchanting arc promenade reaching out and embracing the water, a vibrancy pulling people into the property, creating a compelling reason to go there on a daily basis.

Dave McQuade (Horizons) believes the Paseo Pacific will create an iconic symbol for Downtown.

Gilda Servetter (Park Row) likes connecting the street grid, making it feel like it belongs. The water and city will connect again.

Port Chairman Peter Q. Davis will lead the charge. A decision will be made, a design finalized, funding secured, a developer chosen, and the ground will move. A truly sophisticated urban city will touch the bay. - June 2004

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