A rendering of the Seaport San Diego project by 1HWY1.
11/9/2022 - Times of San Diego
By Chris Jennewein
Port of San Diego commissioners have authorized staff to begin the environmental review process for the Seaport San Diego project proposed by 1HWY1 for redevelopment of the central embarcadero.
1HWY1 is proposing a mixed-use development that includes parks, plazas, piers, walkways, beaches, nature trails, hotels, an event center, an aquarium, office space, an observation tower, restaurants and retail space.
The potential redevelopment area includes Seaport Village and surrounding areas between the Manchester Grand Hyatt and USS Midway. Embarcadero Marina Park North, Ruocco Park, and Tuna Harbor are also included.
“This site is unlike any other along our San Diego Bay and advancing the proposed Seaport San Diego project to environmental review is a good step forward,” said Port Chairman Dan Malcolm on Tuesday. “The central embarcadero has tremendous potential to become San Diego’s signature waterfront destination."
“We are overjoyed at the opportunity to enter a new phase of the approval process and grateful to our supporters who have been with us every step of the way,” said Yehudi Gaffen, CEO of 1HWY1. “Seaport San Diego is designed to keep the best of what we have and reflect the community’s wants and needs, with greater public access to the waterfront for everyone.”
In late 2016, the Board selected the 1HWY1 development team following a competitive solicitation and due diligence process. Since then, 1HWY1’s proposed Seaport San Diego project has evolved in response to board, public, and stakeholder feedback.
The environmental review process that now begins will 24 months or longer and include public feedback.
The Port of San Diego's administration building on Pacific Highway on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. / Photo by Jakob McWhinney
Six years after the Port selected a developer to rebuild Seaport Village, the developer now says the project requires half a billion public dollars for infrastructure.
10/12/2022 - Voice of San Diego
By Andrew Keatts
Six years after selecting developer 1HWY1 to redevelop Seaport Village, the Board of Port Commissioners Tuesday indicated it is on board with the developer's plan to seek $550 million in public money to make the project happen.
The subsidy would help pay for things like stabilizing the shoreline, lifting the land to withstand sea level rise, and accommodating utilities, and pay for amenities that were a selling point for the project like an urban beach, parks, a boardwalk and an elevated “green strand” walkway modeled after The High Line in New York.
Public funds wouldn’t be used for revenue-generating infrastructure like parking garages, or for the $2.6 billion in private development that would include 2,000 hotel rooms, an aquarium, observation tower, retail and office space or concert venue.
Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen, who runs 1HWY1, had said he could build the project without public funds, covering upgrades out of profit from the private development. That changed, he said, when the bill for those upgrades swelled from $150 million to $1.2 billion.
Where the money is coming from: One chunk, about $250 million, would come from special taxes on hotel rooms and tickets for attractions in the project. That would be on top of hotel taxes the city of San Diego charges.
The other chunk would come from a tax-increment financing district. The development would itself generate new tax revenue and a portion of that would be kept in the district. The port would use it to pay back the money borrowed to make the improvements outlined. Tax increment was a common source of public funding in downtown San Diego, before the state killed the redevelopment program in 2011. This could rely on a similar, little-used replacement, known as an enhanced infrastructure financing district, though that wasn’t detailed Tuesday.
That increment would come from increases to the property taxes, sales taxes, and hotel taxes that would flow to the county, city and school district.
Port commissioners, though, made clear that they are in favor of the idea and want the city’s help to study its feasibility.
“Folks are mischaracterizing it because they oppose any development on the site, period – they call it a subsidy,” said Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos. “In the private sector they’d call it an investment, because you get a return on it. I implore the city to devote the resources necessary to vet the economic impact study, just as we will, to determine if the business case is there… If the return is there, we should invest in our region.”
“The reality does sound a lot different than a tax subsidy, or revenues funneled away from other things,” said Commissioner Michael Zucchet. “These are revenues paid for by things that don’t exist right now.”
Commissioner Ann Moore said she always expected some public funding, but she didn’t want it coming from the Port’s general fund, or using the Port’s general fund as a backstop for bonding.
“That’s a bottom line, we can’t go there, and so we do need participation from the city and county of San Diego,” she said.
What’s next: The Port could next month give preliminary approval to the project, which would allow the developer to begin its environmental review needed before it can seek approval from the state Coastal Commission. Gaffen said he hopes the project could break ground in 2025 or early 2026, ten years after the Port selected the developer.
10/11/2022 - SD Union Tribune
By Jennifer Van Grove
The developer proposing to remake the Central Embarcadero region that includes San Diego’s Seaport Village received no pushback on potential public financing strategies from the government agency set to consider preliminary project approval next month.
Tuesday, Port of San Diego Commissioners spoke favorably about 1HWY1’s plan to seek up to $550 million in public funds to pay for a portion of Seaport San Diego’s site infrastructure needs and all of its public amenities — so long as funds don’t come directly from the agency.
“If the return is there, we should invest in our future — if we want to transform our region, create good jobs that sustain families. Or, will we do nothing?,” said Commissioner Rafael Castellanos. “It takes money to make money, and like money, infrastructure doesn’t grow on trees. We need to evaluate all of the potential sources to make a project like this work, just like we did in Chula Vista.”
The comments, meant to cast aside criticisms from people opposed to public subsidies, came after a presentation from Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen, who runs 1HWY.
Gaffen told commissioners of the group’s interest in using public sources of money to pay for public infrastructure and amenities. Revenue generated by the project — in the form of property tax increment, or tax dollars from hotel guests and event-goers — could be used to pay for stabilization of the shoreline, underground utility work, new piers, reconstructed wetlands, promenades, an elevated way, parks and the proposed urban beach, he said.
“We feel and believe that this is a transformational project that can make a huge difference for our city. It ... has the potential to really put our city in the same context as the other great cities of the world,” Gaffen said. “In my 40 years of work, I’ve never come across a site with as many complexities as we’ve had to deal with here. ... The bottom line is that our infrastructure costs have more than quadrupled.”
Backed in part by San Diego’s famed Jacobs family, Seaport San Diego proposes to redevelop the port subdistrict that includes Seaport Village and follows the coast from Embarcadero Marina Park North to the G Street Mole, just south of the USS Midway Museum.
In November 2016, the port selected 1HWY1 to redevelop the expansive, waterfront area, and the parties have be negotiating lease and development terms since October 2017.
Over the years, the developer’s plan has morphed in size and scale — and price. The latest $3.6 billion proposal, which could receive preliminary approval next month, includes more than 2,000 hotel rooms spread across seven properties, substantial retail and restaurant space, new piers and marinas, a large entertainment venue, a blue-tech office campus, a fish-processing facility, an urban beach, more than 2,100 parking spaces, and 16 acres of parks and open space.
Over a 30-year period, the project will generate $1 billion in new revenue for the city of San Diego and $400 million in new revenue for the county of San Diego, according to an economic analysis of the project commissioned by the developer. The sums have not been independently vetted or reviewed by port staff.
1HWY1 framed Tuesday’s discussion as the start of a conversation around public financing. The developer floated a range of options, including an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District, which would capture incremental growth in property tax dollars — above what the city and county currently receive — within the project site. Also in the mix is the creation of a special tax district, or Community Facilities District, to impose special taxes on hotels and entertainment venues within the project site.
The tools allow for a handful of public funding sources, including property tax increment, sales tax, Transient Occupancy Tax and Tourism Marketing District taxes, Special District Hotel Tax and Special District Entertainment Tax.
One conceptual scenario, presented by the developer, would see the project use $250 million in special tax dollars, generated from on-site hotel stays and entertainment venue ticket sales, to fund critical infrastructure such as a new shoreline that wouldn’t be swept into the sea during a major disaster. A combination of other site-specific tax-based sources and grant funds could be used to fund the remaining $300 million in costs, or the developer could scale back on public infrastructure, Paul Gherini, a project executive, told commissioners.
Four commissioners — Castellanos, Dan Malcolm, Ann Moore and Michael Zucchet — spoke approvingly of 1HWY1’s approach to public financing, characterizing the money as an investment in the region. They pointed to the under-construction resort hotel on the Chula Vista Bayfront, paid for in part with public money, as an example of a partnership worth emulating. Port Commissioners Sandy Naranjo and Danielle Moore did not weigh in on the item, and Commissioner Frank Urtasun was absent.
Key to the conversation is that public financing sources for Seaport San Diego would come at the expense of the city and the county, and not the port. That means the city and county will need to make their own determination as to whether they want to help fund the project, commissioners said.
“We as government agencies need to collaborate, and so I’m going to call on Mayor Todd Gloria today and I’m going to call on the San Diego (City) Council. And I’m going to call on the County Board of Supervisors,” Malcolm said. “Join with us. Join with the port. Collaborate with us. Let’s do something special together. We don’t do this and we’re going to have 100 percent of nothing, which is nothing.”
The developer did, however, receive a word of caution from Commissioner Zucchet, who warned against eliminating any aspect of the project’s public realm.
“I do think that it’s dangerous — and I don’t think it’s your intent either, by the way — to talk about the notion that if we don’t get that public financing, then the public infrastructure is at risk. That’s not the way I see it. I see the entire project is at risk,” Zucchet said. “We’re not going to do all of the private infrastructure and do none of the public infrastructure.”
The developer’s public financing ideas were supported, during public comment, by local agencies and labor groups, who welcome the prospect of boosting San Diego’s profile and adding more jobs.
In contrast, around 20 members of the public wrote letters or left voicemails expressing their displeasure with using public funds for a project they believe is either too big or unnecessary.
“I object to the Seaport project wanting over half a billion dollars to pay for public infrastructure,” Janet Rogers, who is with the Embarcadero Coalition, said in a voicemail played at the meeting. “For nearly (six) years, the developer said he can fully fund the project. Now he’s made such a huge monstrosity that he can’t pay for it and (he) wants the public to foot the bill. This is a bait and switch.”
The Board of Port Commissioners, which took no formal action at Tuesday’s meeting, is next scheduled to receive an update on the project at its Nov. 8 meeting. The board will consider preliminary approval, a milestone action that would trigger the start of the environmental review process.
12/12/2022 – SD Transcript
Daily Transcript Staff Report
While the major mixed-use development Seaport San Diego is a long way from realization, it has already won a Gold Award for evolving projects from the International Council of Shopping Centers.
The 1HWY1 Partnership, led by Yehudi "Gaf" Gaffen, Jeff Jacobs and Jeffrey Essakow. is developing the project. The team called the award the latest milestone for the projected $3.6 billion project on the Port of San Diego's tidelands.
The award was in the "innovation and aspiration in the new developments" category.
Seaport San Diego's master architect James Mellor, principal of CallisonRTKL Inc., accepted the award on behalf of the project team.
"Seaport is really a love letter for San Diego—a once-in-a-lifetime project—and we are grateful to ICSC for recognizing the passion and quality of this innovative design in enhancing public access and economic development for this cherished site," he said in a statement. "We have had tremendous momentum this year and we are excited about where it's going as we advance this truly world-class waterfront for our beautiful San Diego Bay."
ICSC highlighted Seaport San Diego's design for dramatically increasing coastal access, recreational space, activities, and water views of San Diego Bay while providing improved commercial fishing facilities and creating unique features, including an iconic observation tower, aquarium, learning center and Blue Tech Innovation Center.
The mixed-use development as planned would also include retail, hotels ranging from luxury to hostels, and an event center, among other components.
"This design provides contemporary experiences designed to prioritize accessible waterfront recreation with 16-plus acres of open space," ICSC stated in the video accompanying the award presentation.
"Seaport San Diego is more than just an urban redevelopment project—it's the expression of our hopes and dreams for future generations and our passion for being a good steward of the ocean and the planet," Gaffen said. "Our process has been progressive, with community input shaping every part of the design. We are humbled to receive the ICSC GOLD Award and hope to serve as a model for other developments that put the community first."
The next step for the project, which will ultimately need the approvals of both the Port of San Diego and the California Coastal Commission, will be to enter the environmental review process beginning early next year—also a critical step for any large development.
For Immediate Release
Award Follows the Recent Unanimous Vote by the Board of Port Commissioners to Move Seaport San Diego into the Environmental Review Phase
MEDIA CONTACT: Tanya Castaneda | 619.764.9874 | firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN DIEGO, CALIF. (Dec. 8, 2022) – Seaport San Diego has been honored with a prestigious design award, the latest milestone for this transformative redevelopment proposed for the Downtown San Diego waterfront within the Port of San Diego. The $3.6 billion project is currently preparing to enter the environmental review process, a critical step for any large development. Now, the project team has been presented with the 2022 ICSC GOLD Award for Evolving Innovation and Aspiration in the New Developments category. ICSC highlighted Seaport San Diego’s design for dramatically increasing coastal access, recreational space, activities and water views of San Diego Bay while providing improved commercial fishing facilities and creating unique features including an iconic observation Tower, Aquarium, Learning Center and Blue Tech Innovation Center.
As the member organization for industry advancement, ICSC promotes and elevates the marketplaces and spaces where people shop, dine, work, play and gather as foundational and vital ingredients of communities and economies. Its Global Design & Development Awards Program recognizes outstanding achievements in design and development of marketplaces properties and retail store design. This year’s winners were announced at the annual ceremony Dec. 1, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. “This design provides contemporary experiences designed to prioritize accessible waterfront recreation with 16-plus acres of open space,” ICSC stated in the video accompanying the award presentation.
Master architect James Mellor, AIA, NCARB, Principal of CallisonRTKL Inc., accepted the award on behalf of the project team.
“Seaport is really a love letter for San Diego – a once-in-a-lifetime project – and we are grateful to ICSC for recognizing the passion and quality of this innovative design in enhancing public access and economic development for this cherished site,” Mellor said. “We have had tremendous momentum this year and we are excited about where it’s going as we advance this truly world-class waterfront for our beautiful San Diego Bay.”
The Seaport San Diego developer is the 1HWY1 Partnership, made up of Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen, Jeff Jacobs and Jeffrey Essakow.
“Seaport San Diego is more than just an urban redevelopment project – it’s the expression of our hopes and dreams for future generations and our passion for being a good steward of the ocean and the planet,” said Gaffen, 1HWY1’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our process has been progressive, with community input shaping every part of the design. We are humbled to receive the ICSC GOLD Award and hope to serve as a model for other developments that put the community first.”
With strong public support, Seaport San Diego is endorsed by hundreds of San Diego residents and organizations including the Downtown San Diego Partnership, San Diego County Building & Construction Trades Council, UNITE-HERE, San Diego Airport Authority, San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Regional EDC, TMA BlueTech and YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County, among many others.
1HWY1 was selected by the Port of San Diego for its Seaport San Diego concept after a competitive process in 2016 in which developers submitted ideas for the land and water area known as the Central Embarcadero. This area includes Seaport Village, Santa Monica Seafood (formerly Chesapeake Fish), and surrounding areas between the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the USS Midway Museum, with some exclusions. The Port initiated the redevelopment to create more public space on the water, extend streets to the water, preserve and enhance view corridors and facilitate the enjoyment of the bay.
The project team spent years refining its proposed project in response to Board and stakeholder feedback, due diligence findings, and input from prospective partners. The Port held four public meetings to consider Seaport San Diego in 2022, a year of great momentum.
A major milestone took place on November 8, 2022; the Board of Port Commissioners unanimously voted to move the project into the California Environmental Quality Act review process. Environmental review is expected to take at least two years, after which the project may be considered for approval. Based on meeting all milestones, 1HWY1 projects that a groundbreaking could take place in 2025.
ABOUT SEAPORT SAN DIEGO:
Seaport San Diego is a proposal by 1HWY1 to revitalize a key section of the San Diego Bayfront thoughtfully and boldly for the next century of San Diego visitors and residents. The project would bolster access, use, and enjoyment of the waterfront for all. The proposal includes significant recreational open space, including parks and landscaping, recreation areas, a public promenade, walkways and walking paths, public piers and a new public urban beach; an activated observation Tower, which will serve as an iconic and engaging attraction complete with restaurants, observation decks, and gathering spaces for all to celebrate the San Diego waterfront; a new living shoreline area with constructed artificial wetlands and tidepools; a Blue Campus featuring an Aquarium, Learning Center and Blue Tech Innovation Center; a unique variety of experiential retail, restaurants as well as health and wellness offerings; multiple hospitality options comprised of lodging suitable for all income levels to create 24/7 activity, along with convention and meeting space. Key elements include a revitalized commercial fishing harbor, fish processing facility and elevated deck for public viewing at the historic Tuna Harbor site; a vibrant event center for hosting concerts, live events and other amenities; and unparalleled public water access including public access piers, marinas, and day use docks and slips. For more information, please visit seaportsandiegoca.com.
11/8/2022 – The San Diego Union-Tribune
By Lori Weisberg
San Diego Port Commissioners agree to move forward with environmental review, marketing a mile stone moment for a project that was conceived more than six years ago
Seaport San Diego, from developer 1HWY1, is a $3.6 billion plan to remake 105 acres of land and water area on San Diego Bay with 2.7 million square feet of mixed-use development, including 1 500-foot observation tower. This rendering depicts a view from the green Strand elevated walkway looking north, with the marina on the left. (Courtesy, CallisonRTKL, Inc)
San Diego Port commissioners on Tuesday agreed to launch an environmental review of a $3.6 billion plan to remake Seaport Village and the surrounding waterfront, culminating six years of planning on one of the single biggest projects in port history.
The unanimous 7-0 vote signals the Port of San Diego's willingness to move forward a development that has undergone multiple revisions over the years and attracted, at times, significant concerns from various stakeholders, from downtown homeowners to commercial fishermen. Commissioners themselves have expressed reservations in the past, and just last month, the staff of the California Coastal Commission weighed in with deep concerns of its own.
Although they acknowledged those pockets of opposition, commissioners lauded the developer, 1HWY1, for the numerous changes it has made to its proposed redevelopment of downtown's Central Embarcadero. The time is now, they said, to move forward, with the caveat that the Tuesday vote is not an expression of formal support for the development itself nor does it represent a commitments to Seaport San Diego.
"We need to think big; if we stall, if we wait, it'll take another 10, 15 years," said Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, calling the redevelopment of the Central Embarcadero a "transformational" undertaking. "Many people will be very happy if that's what we do. I'm not willing to not try to swing for the fences and to not think big. It's really hard to do something like this. After six years, it's time to take it to the next level of review.
7/27/2022 – Fox 5 San Diego
Zara Barker reports on the huge project that could redefine the city’s waterfront.
JULY 22, 2022 2:47 PM PT – SD Union-Tribune
BY JENNIFER VAN GROVE
It’s not back to the drawing board, but the developer proposing to redo downtown’s broader Central Embarcadero with hotels, attractions and new marinas will need to revise — and perhaps even eliminate — some key elements of the mega project known as Seaport San Diego.
Thursday, Port of San Diego Commissioners expressed opposing views of 1HWY1’s Seaport project during a 4.5-hour-long workshop where public concerns about the overall size of the project, the developer’s fraught relationship with local fishermen and the volume of the project’s boat slips dominated the conversation. Still, the general tenor of the discussion suggested a path forward where the road to approval appeared blocked just a few months ago.
“I think that we continue to move down the right path,” Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos said. “I know it’s controversial and a lot of folks aren’t going to like it. But there are a lot of folks who don’t just like it, they love it. And so I’m not entirely there yet, but I’m supportive of the vision. I’d like to see the transformative project come to fruition on this site.”
Like Castellanos, Commissioners Dan Malcolm and Ann Moore said they see the project — and its more than 2,000 hotel rooms — as an appropriate fit for downtown’s urban waterfront.
A new rendering of the proposed Seaport San Diego project shows the mixed-use development has been changed to include more open space and wider walkways.
7/22/2022 – SD Daily Transcript
By Thor Kamban Biberma
A transformative reimagining of Seaport Village has been in a constant state of flux since it was first proposed six years ago, and what the project will ultimately look like is anyone's guess.
On Thursday, the latest proposal of Seaport San Diego was presented to the Board of Port Commissioners. It's a plan that puts a heavy emphasis on the expanded amount of open space in the project.
Even with all the changes, Yehudi Gaffen, who is helping spearhead the project, remains upbeat.
"I was encouraged by the meeting with the commissioners," said Gaffen, who is CEO of both Gaffen Development and Protea Waterfront Development.
He added that he is actually looking forward to getting into the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process once the latest changes have been given the green light by the Port. The project would also need approval from the California Coastal Commission.
The group developing the project is known as 1 Highway 1 (1HWY1). Since it was selected for the project in 2016, the team been refining its proposal that would replace the existing Seaport Village site on the Central Embarcadero.
The project has undergone more than 100 public presentations to ensure public involvement. The 1HWY1 team and previously the Board of Port Commissioners saw a presentation on Seaport San Diego in March 2022.
The latest renderings of Seaport San Diego, which were presented Thursday to the Port of San Diego, illustrate possible revisions to the proposal in response to the public feedback in March.
The Board of Port Commissioners didn't make a decision Thursday but provided feedback, which will help finalize the revisions.
The changes include the addition of more recreational open space, increases in the width of walkways, improvements in circulation and open sightlines to the water, and the creation of a more open feeling along the waterfront. All of these changes would be achieved by reducing proposed density, lowering some building heights, increasing setbacks and moving most parking underground.
The decreased density would be achieved by reducing the size of the proposed Blue Tech Innovation Center, the full-service hotel conference facility and the number of boat slips.
The Port has received more than 400 letters of support for the Seaport San Diego proposal this year. The list of supporters includes the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Downtown San Diego Partnership, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, the San Diego Airport Authority, the San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council, UC San Diego, the San Diego Tourism Authority and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.
The new proposal increases recreational open space by more than 1 acre to 16 acres and increases the width of public access from Pacific Highway to Market Street Pier by up to 100 percent compared to the December 2021 project description, from 50-feet wide to 80-to 100-feet wide by reducing the full-service hotel conference facilities.
The full-service hotel's footprint would be reconfigured to improve circulation to the water and open sightlines to the water.
The latest proposal also more open space along the waterfront by increasing the building setbacks at the aquarium by more than 60 percent (from 40 feet to 65 feet) compared to the December 2021 project description.
The number of boat slips has been reduced from 366 to 265 compared to the December 2021 project description.
The Blue Tech Innovation Center area has been reduced by more 25 percent to 220,000 square feet, and the facility's tower height has been decreased by 60 feet compared to the December 2021 project description to 320 feet.
The new proposal also dramatically increases the number of recreational experiences to include expanded and improved parks, piers, a living shoreline, an urban beach, a kids' nature play area, and a "green strand" elevated walkway.
"We want to make sure this project is accessible to everyone," said Gaffen, emphasizing that the plans are very environmentally conscious as well.
Last spring, PCL Construction and McCarthy Construction were both named as general contractors to handle the construction.
Three architectural firms are currently part of the 1HWY1 team. They include Bjarke Ingels Group Architects, Safdie Rabines Architects, and Callison RTKL Architects.
"This has been a long journey," said Gaffen, adding that he remains very confident that all the efforts will make for the best possible project.
Developer 1HWY1 releases new and refreshed renderings ahead of public workshop.
By JENNIFER VAN GROVE
JULY 19, 2022
In advance of a public workshop, developer 1HWY1 is leaning on the artistic work of its architect CallisonRTKL Inc. to engineer a more visual — and potentially more digestible — experience of its proposed mega project Seaport San Diego.
The idea is to win over naysayers, Port of San Diego Commissioners in particular, with new and refreshed renderings that emphasize waterfront experiences over the project’s many towers, providing a perspective that was perhaps lacking in the past.
In November 2016, the port selected 1HWY1 to redevelop downtown’s Central Embarcadero, which includes Seaport Village and follows the coast from Embarcadero Marina Park North to the G Street Mole, just south of the USS Midway Museum. The parties have, since October 2017, been actively negotiating a development program and ground lease for the expansive site, although the board has yet to OK the project.