$1.2B Redevelopment Planned for Downtown San Diego

The 70-acre waterfront project will be anchored by a 480-foot-tall observation tower.
Rendering of The Spire, San Diego

Rendering of The Spire, San Diego

San Diego—A plan for a 70-acre waterfront redevelopment in San Diego is moving closer to reality now that the San Diego Port Authority Commission has voted to back a $1.2 billion proposal that would include a 480-foot-tall SkySpire observation tower.

The commission is expected to complete a final review of the Seaport San Diego plan by October. It was one of 11 received by the SDPAC for a redevelopment of San Diego’s Seaport Village and Central Embarcadero area. The spire, which would be erected by ThrillCorp Inc. of Orlando, Fla., is part of a mixed-use project proposed by a consortium led by Protea Waterfront Development as the managing member.

The plan calls for an interactive aquarium, beaches, hotels, marinas, retail, dining and other entertainment venues. Once approvals are secured and the current leaseholder’s lease expires in 2018, construction could begin by 2020 and be completed three years later.

“I believe this site is unquestionably one of the best waterfront sites in the United States that when completed will redefine experiential urban, mixed-use development and make San Diego a truly world-class city,” Yehudi ‘Gaf’ Gaffen, one of the development partners, said in a prepared statement.

Other Protea partners include Jeff Jacobs, a former Qualcomm executive turned developer, and Jeffery Essakow, who joined forces with Gaffen in 1996 to found Protea Holdings and currently manages the day-to-day operations. Protea Holdings has developed more than $300 million worth of commercial projects.

ThrillCorp is part of the 1HWY1 consortium. The SkySpire, designed by AVRP/Skyport Studios would have gondolas that spiral around the tower and transport guests to a top-level observation deck to be designed with Smithsonian Media. A second upper level would also include a restaurant. The developers expect the spire to become an iconic landmark in San Diego.

“Guests can disembark at the top to enjoy the beauty of San Diego and engage in some of the latest technology to learn about the area and its history,” Michael Kitchen, chief development officer for ThrillCorp, said in prepared remarks.

“Our team did a tremendous job assembling and present a complete and compelling vision that includes a curated collection of unique land uses in a well-thought-out design,” Kitchen added. “The Port of San Diego set a high bar of expectation and we are very grateful to have been deemed to meet it.”