Ground-level view of the proposed observation tower. Image courtesy of Seaport San Diego.
A proposed observation tower at the edge of Pacific Highway is a polarizing symbol of change that could make or break the larger, $2.4 billion redevelopment effort planned for downtown’s Central Embarcadero. — San Diego Union-Tribune
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and developers 1HWY1 have proposed a 500-foot cylindrical observation tower for San Diego's waterfront Central Embarcadero as part of a massive $2.4 billion Seaport San Diego project.
The part-hotel, part-theme park development could include 385 hotel rooms, a 170,822-square-foot "vertical aquarium," and other retail, office, and leisure spaces, according to a recent report from The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The proposal, which will have to undergo extensive environmental review and be approved by the California Coastal Commission, is not without controversy, however.
Melody Lasiter, a San Diego coastal planner, told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “We have concerns about the bulk and scale of the project in general."
Lasiter added, “Our major concern is that the existing development down at Seaport Village right now is easily accessible for a wide range of incomes. There’s a lot of passive space, and anyone can go to Seaport Village and walk around. With the redevelopment, it might not be that way. Our focus is the public’s ability to recreate there at low or no cost.”
A proposed observation tower at the edge of Pacific Highway is a polarizing symbol of change that could make or break the larger, $2.4 billion redevelopment effort planned for downtown’s Central Embarcadero.
In some circles there is a sense that San Diego is missing an internationally recognizable calling card, as in a postcard-worthy — or in today’s vernacular, Instagrammable — destination that shouts, “Visit me.” The cylindrical tower with a cinched waist that is being touted as the high-flying replacement to a flat-by-comparison Seaport Village could change that.
That is, if California allows it.
A jaw-dropping symbol of change for the bayfront area that makes up downtown’s Central Embarcadero, the 500-foot tower is being heralded by developer 1HWY1 as the architectural focal point of its massive $2.4 billion Seaport San Diego project. Its location, where the bay ends and Pacific Highway begins, makes it geographically significant as well.
The full redevelopment effort encompasses 70 acres of land and water along Harbor Drive and is currently in the initial planning stages. Its program envisions a total of 2,050 hotel rooms spread across different properties, including 385 rooms in the base of the tower. Also proposed is a 170,822-square-foot aquarium, a 110,247-square-foot event center, 261,411 square feet of retail space, and 159,454 of office space reserved for ocean research-related enterprises.
We recorded a new podcast! Our second one. This one zooms in on our housing crisis, long-distance commutes and the I-15 growth corridor, wildfire threats, the missing middle, NIMBYs, YIMBYs and more. Before we get to it, we want to share a few related items that inspired our podcast.
There’s been a lot of talk about our housing crisis, perhaps too much talk, and not enough action. MNM Principal Tony Manolatos, a father of three children whom he fears won’t be able to afford a home in San Diego, recently weighed in with an op-ed in Voice of San Diego to shed light on two bans on homebuilding that have exacerbated our housing crisis:
Tony’s piece was picked up by KUSI TV and KOGO Radio, each of which brought him in to discuss the impact our housing crisis is having on working families and young professionals, many of whom are forced to move out of state. Others move to Riverside County, where they can afford a home, and commute back here for work. In fact, 60,000 people make the Riverside-to-San Diego commute every work day, polluting our air, jamming our roads, and robbing them of valuable time with their children because they are spending up to four hours a day commuting to and from work.
The MNM Podcast: Episode 2, Housing Crisis Spurs Long-Distance Commutes
Tony’s op-ed has people talking and thinking about a topic important to everyone across our region. So we decided to move the conversation forward. We recorded a podcast on long-distance commutes, the backcountry vs. the I-15 growth and transit corridor, the omnipresent wildfire threat, and what housing experts refer to as the “missing middle.”
Our podcast includes an interview with Ginger Hitzke, an affordable housing developer who commutes to work every day from her home in Riverside County to her office in Lemon Grove. She avoids rush hour traffic to avoid spending more than 3 hours a day commuting. We also spoke with Christopher Dicus, a professor of wildland fire and fuels management at California Polytechnic State University and a former firefighter, because very often housing opponents bring up wildfires as a reason not to build along the I-15 growth and transit corridor. In the last segment, you will hear from MNM’s Dike Anyiwo, Tanya Mannes Castaneda and Tony Manolatos. Click below to listen.