The much-discussed Plaza de Panama project has as one of its main features the addition of a large multi-story parking project near the Organ Pavilion. I’ve been a supporter of the proposal, with major funding from Irwin and Joan Jacobs. While we’re undertaking this project, here’s something nearby that the time has come for some serious review.

This is the Starlight Musical Theatre, which also extends several stories downward into a park canyon. After several decades of running musicals, Starlight has had no shows the last two summers. Here it sits, in prime park location, with no current use and perhaps none ahead. Here are a couple of possible options for this venue and space:

• One of the major problems, long a source of audience amusement (and irritation), is when the airplanes swoop low as they’re landing at Lindbergh Field. The conductor flashes the “freeze” signal, with music stopping and actors going into a hold position. When the plane’s noise goes down, the conductor signals again and the show resumes. This would seem to be a most undesirable location for an open-air musical performance. If this survives for musicals, my suggestion is to install a roof over the open arena, cutting out the aircraft interruptions.

• Alternatively, it looks like that space might make a good choice, totally redesigned, as a multi-story parking garage (similar to the Plaza de Panama plan). The space at the top could either have a different building (museum?) placed atop the parking structure, or, as will be done with the Panama project, covered over with green space for park ambling, picnics, entertainment, events, etc. Entry and exit would be off President’s Way and onto Park Boulevard.

What thinkest thou?

Tom Leech is author of Outdoors San Diego: Hiking, Biking & Camping.


Want to contribute to discussion? Submit a suggestion to Fix San Diego.

    This article relates to: Arts/Culture, Letters, Opinion
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

    Stay up-to-date on stories like this. Sign up for a VOSD newsletter.

    Written by Tom Leech

    14 comments
    Tom Leech
    Tom Leech subscriber

    So Mr. Architect. What is your proposal for continued use of this "historic" WPA structure? It's just been sitting there, with no use, the last couple years. Whether historic or not, if a structure's use is kaput, maybe it's time to look at options. And my suggestion is tied to a major-league discussion going on right now, related to getting cars off Balboa Park's Prado. Can I assume you oppose the Panama Plaza plan, as many do, since it does change (slightly) the look across the truly classic Laurel Street bridge? I'm open to your suggestions (doesn't mean I'll like them).

    TomLeech
    TomLeech

    So Mr. Architect. What is your proposal for continued use of this "historic" WPA structure? It's just been sitting there, with no use, the last couple years. Whether historic or not, if a structure's use is kaput, maybe it's time to look at options. And my suggestion is tied to a major-league discussion going on right now, related to getting cars off Balboa Park's Prado. Can I assume you oppose the Panama Plaza plan, as many do, since it does change (slightly) the look across the truly classic Laurel Street bridge? I'm open to your suggestions (doesn't mean I'll like them).

    john eisenhart
    john eisenhart subscriber

    Always amazing to see a preservationist of natural environments think they have a clue in the discussion of architecture , specifically a historic designated building. The Starlight Bowl is a classic W.P.A. structure that was invaded by a non-native species (jet planes) So your solution is to terminate the native species in favor of a non-native one because you do not want to walk a few extra blocks? Do you have a creditable left with reasoning like this? Pleaeeeeee.

    mr architect
    mr architect

    Always amazing to see a preservationist of natural environments think they have a clue in the discussion of architecture , specifically a historic designated building. The Starlight Bowl is a classic W.P.A. structure that was invaded by a non-native species (jet planes) So your solution is to terminate the native species in favor of a non-native one because you do not want to walk a few extra blocks? Do you have a creditable left with reasoning like this? Pleaeeeeee.

    Richard Ross
    Richard Ross subscribermember

    Myearth, above... says it concisely and says it all.! ! !

    Activist
    Activist

    Myearth, above... says it concisely and says it all.! ! !

    Tom Leech
    Tom Leech subscriber

    The new side road across the Laurel St. Bridge has signifant opposition will see much more study before it's set. My approach would have many more cars entering from Park Blvd. and this might be an option to provide them more parking, and right near one of the most popular Balboa Park areas (have you tried parking near the Auto and Air & Space Museums on a Sunday afternoon lately?).

    TomLeech
    TomLeech

    The new side road across the Laurel St. Bridge has signifant opposition will see much more study before it's set. My approach would have many more cars entering from Park Blvd. and this might be an option to provide them more parking, and right near one of the most popular Balboa Park areas (have you tried parking near the Auto and Air & Space Museums on a Sunday afternoon lately?).

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    I think we need to focus on maintaining the structures we have, not building more. And especially not building more when they degrade important historic features of the top. Even if the bridge were not historic, it would still be wrong to lose the beautiful scene with the ugly bypass bridge. Let's not pave paradise to put up parking garage(s).

    myearth
    myearth

    I think we need to focus on maintaining the structures we have, not building more. And especially not building more when they degrade important historic features of the top. Even if the bridge were not historic, it would still be wrong to lose the beautiful scene with the ugly bypass bridge. Let's not pave paradise to put up parking garage(s).

    Kevin Swanson
    Kevin Swanson subscriber

    Bulldoze Balboa Park for automobiles? Certainly NOT in the National Historic Landmark District! Think of the future, and consider alternatives such as proposed with San Diego 2015.

    SanDiego2015
    SanDiego2015

    Bulldoze Balboa Park for automobiles? Certainly NOT in the National Historic Landmark District! Think of the future, and consider alternatives such as proposed with San Diego 2015.

    Jim Neri
    Jim Neri subscribermember

    too pragmatic. putting a parking structure in place of the the "Flightpath Theater" will only encourage people to visit the park.

    Jimmer
    Jimmer

    too pragmatic. putting a parking structure in place of the the "Flightpath Theater" will only encourage people to visit the park.


    ×

    Log In or Register

    Registered users can follow narratives, comment on articles, check donation history and more.

    If you’ve never logged in before, please create a free account. If you’re a VOSD member, please use the email address associated with your donations.

    Forgot Password?
    New to VOSD? Create an account

    ×
    Test Modal
    • Note: You cannot change your username.

    ×
    Sign Up For the Morning Report and Top Stories

    Sign Up For the
    VOSD Morning Report

    Get San Diego’s top stories delivered to your inbox each morning.

    To stop this message from appearing, Log in or Register.

    ×

    cow-modal