Thursday, July 10, 2008 | Downtown looms over the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal like an approaching storm cloud. A new 30-story Hilton hotel towers above freight ships, the quintessential picture of the conflicting visions for San Diego’s waterfront.
The cargo terminal is the division between the region’s working waterfront and its tourist waterfront. On the north side of San Diego’s version of the Mason-Dixon are hotels, restaurants, the convention center and Gaslamp. On the south side are commercial shipyards, cargo terminals and longshoremen unloading containers of bananas.
Those two forces, industrial and commercial, have long been in conflict on San Diego’s waterfront. It’s either been one or the other. But a group of developers aims to skirt the conflict between the two sides — by accommodating both, one right on top of the next.
They’ll ask voters in November whether they’d like to see more of the waterfront turned into hotels and restaurants, while still preserving the industrial, blue-collar jobs there today. Developers Richard Chase, Nancy Chase and Frank Gallagher have been leading efforts to place an initiative on November’s ballot that would clear the way for a potentially multi-billion dollar development at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, a 96-acre cargo port.
The exact vision for that development is still blurry, and the registrar is still counting signatures to see whether the group submitted the requisite number to get the measure on the ballot. But if voters approve the measure, the developers are considering the construction of a 40-foot-tall deck above the existing cargo operations at the terminal. To bridge the gap between commercial and industrial uses, they would in effect create new land.
To hear Richard Chase describe it, the proposal is the trigger to solving many of San Diego’s civic issues. Start by building the deck, he said.