$1.5bn scheme set to transform San Diego waterside

San Diego, California’s second largest city, is planning to exchange a collection of tourist spots and a fish processing plant for a 28ha entertainment-led mixed-use development.

The project, planned for the city’s bay, will be based on a "hospitality core" of hotels, and will include a 150m observation tower, an aquarium, a school specialising in marine studies as well as such Californian essentials as an outdoor gym, beach volleyball courts, a marina and swimming pools.

The tower, which will be known as "the Spire" will be circled by gondolas, and virtual reality will be used to recreate the areas pre-Colombian past.

Protea’s principals: left to right, Yehudi Gaffen, Jeff Jacobs and Jeff Essakow

The project is being undertaken by Protea Waterfront Development, which was founded by three local property and construction professionals: Yehudi Gaffen, Jeff Jacobs and Jeff Essakow. Protea was awarded the work back in 2016 by the San Diego poert commissioners.

The delivery team includes Gaffen’s project management firm Gafcon, real estate firm Allegis Development Services, designers AVRP Studios and Danish architect Bjarke Ingels Group. Engineering will be by Moffat & Nichol.

The development’s design is intended to take into account the threat of earthquakes and sea level rises. Gaffen told Engineering News-Review California: "Because we’re so close to the water, it’s all under the water table. We’re essentially creating a big bathtub under the ground." The parking garage’s design will include a resiliency plan for sea level rise, affecting everything from the entrance’s location to placement of electrical systems."

Work on site is expected to begin in 2021, and construction should conclude in 2024 or 2025.

Top image: Seafront San Diego’s rendering of its development plans

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